Cyril C. NwokejiTuesday, August 15, 2017


he 2018 World cup qualification battle between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun, is fast approaching. The D-days are already known. The epic battle is nigh; a battle between two giants of African soccer, with a rich history in soccer. And most importantly with a history of bitter rivalry between them! The Camerounians have generally gotten the better part of the Super Eagles, in competitive matches, in the last thirty -seven years. They defeated the Super Eagles, most importantly, in three Nations' cup final matches: 1984, 1988 and 2000. The defeat of 2000, was the most painful, as it happened right in our backyard- Lagos, right before the eyes of teeming soccer-loving supporters of the Super Eagles of Nigeria! That victory was also painful ,as it robbed the Super Eagles of Nigeria, the opportunity of winning the then Nations' cup, named the" Unity cup," donated by the erstwhile Nigerian President: Alhaji Shehu Shagari, for keeps! The Camerounians won it for keeps! The Camerounians also denied Nigeria the opportunity of representing Africa, at the 1990 World cup competition in Italy.

The question at this juncture is: Will these victories of Cameroun over the Super Eagles of Nigeria, when it matters most, continue? My candid answer is, NO! Considering the huge potentialities of Nigeria in soccer, this should not be the case. Now let's put the past behind us and focus on the present.

Is the present Camerounian team, the reigning African champions, beatable ? Mee thinks, yes; they are beatable. Can the Super Eagles defeat them, in Uyo, and get a minimum of a draw in Yaounde, Cameroun? Mee thinks, yes; it is possible.

The pertinent question is: How can the Super Eagles, achieve these objectives in the double cracker against the Camerounians ? Yours sincerely, will give the following tips, to enable the Super Eagles triumph over Cameroun:

Firstly, the players should be mentally prepared to defeat Cameroun at home and get at least a draw in Cameroun! They should have a positive mind set for these double cracker. This is not a match for a player who is mentally unprepared to play and win. In other words, the players should have a" winner's mentality" going into this match! The team's psychologist should work very hard in this respect.

Secondly, the coaches should make the right selection of players for this match and of course prosecute the match with the right tactics! One expects the team to play in their now traditional, 4-4-2 formation. In this wise, one would like to see the following players on the starting line-up, all things being equal :

Goalkeeper Dele Aiyenugba, should be in goal. He is the most experienced of the goalkeepers available to the coaches.

The back four should consist of: "Field Marshal" Kenneth Omeruo, at right back. He is not a natural for this position; but is strong on man-to-man situations, and his overlapping runs are ok. Above all, even as a young player, he has quite some experience, to the bargain!

The " Recalcitrant" Elderson Echiejile, should be at left back. He is by far the best for that position.

The central defensive combo, should be manned by: William Troost Ekong, alias "the Rock of Gibralter," at centre-half back. While "Commander- General" Leon Balogun, should be at left-half back. This central defensive combo, is the best Nigeria can boost of presently, and is popularly referred to in the local parlance, as the: "Oyibo connection", for obvious reasons!

The four-man mid-field should be manned by :

Ogenyi "the angry wasp" Onazi, who chases his opponents to hell! Apart from his superb man-marking ability, he brings a lot of footballing ability to the team, as a very mobile defensive mid-fielder.

The tactically erudite Skipper John Obi Mikel, should be at the very centre of the pack, directing the affairs of the team. He has a huge experience, and can help the team greatly.

The silky, silvery, flowery-skilled, magnificent and ubiquitous, Victor Moses, should be one of the wing offensive mid-fielders.

The "dancing Krekel", Alex Iwobi, should be the other wing offensive mid-fielder. Alex Iwobi, is a superbly skillful player, whose creative skills can help the team.

The mid-field, yours sincerely is proposing on that day, under normal circumstances, given the quality of the players, will exhibit: superb defensive ability, recalcitrance, creativity, flowery flair, elegance, lustre and shine, and, overall dynamism, audacity and alacrity! These are qualities needed to unlock and disorganise the physical and highly determined Camerounians.

The two-man attack, should parade: The "predaciously predacious" Kelechi Iheanacho, as deepest striker. Kelechi, has a natural knack for scoring goals! My choice as supporting striker is: Brown Ideye; apart from having the physical ability needed to counter the very physical Camerounians, he has a huge technical bagage and a decent measure of experience. With these qualities, he will help set Kelechi Iheanacho free, from the likely tight-marking Camerounians.

The above proposed line-up, is merely a proposal. Coach Rohr will have the final say, and what ever he decides, we will certainly respect it! Yours sincerely is only trying to help him in his job and not trying to dictate to him!

Thirdly, the Nigerian supporters of the Super Eagles, should support the team non-stop, from the blast of the refree's whistle till the end of the match. They should not only cheer the team, when a goal is scored, but should cheer the team all the way! According to the late legendary commentator, Ernest Okonkwo, of blessed memory, when the supporters cheer their team continuosly, they stimulate the players to action! But when they cheer only when a goal is scored, they merely react to the match situation! According to him, the first type of support, is the most effective, and is preferable! And gives the team the "12th man" advantage! Of course it speaks for itself, that, the supporters, must under no circumstance, turn against the Super Eagles of Nigeria!

Fourthly, the Nigerian community in Cameroun, who are quite considerable in population, should come out en masse, to cheer the Super Eagles, all the way, and also give them the "12th man" advantage, in Cameroun!

The cracker against the Camerounians, will be a hard, tough, rugged, attritious battle of survival of the fittest! The Camerounians no doubt will come charging at the Super Eagles, from the blast of the refree's whistle, in Uyo. They normally play without complexes, regardless of where they play and whom they play. A Camerounian friend of mine told me some time ago, the Lions of Cameroun, play better when the stakes are higher! This is the reason they are called the: "Indomitable Lions" of Cameroun! This same friend also said that even if a group of soccer nonentities, are dressed in the colours of Cameroun, to represent their country, they will automatically transform themselves, literally and figuratively, to indomitable Lions, that will try to devour their opponents! They are not and can never be battle shy. They go for it when they have to. The match against Nigeria, will be an uncanny battle of the most rugged! A battle where the sparks would fly! A battle that would certainly be characterised by fire and fury! ( Apologies to President Donald Trump ).

Folks, don't be suprised that the eight players that boycotted the Camerounian Nations' cup squad,earlier in the year, may come flocking back, to be part of the "Indomitable Lions," that would try to stop Nigeria, from " Russia 2008"! They are usually too excited about playing and always trying to stop the Super Eagles .

Above all, they have this self confidence, they can always defeat the Super Eagles of Nigeria, more especially when the stakes are highest. They will not fail to recount to one, the three Nations' cup final matches they won against Nigeria!

The Super Eagles should be ultimately prepared for this match! The Coaches should and must field the best Nigerian players. There should be no room for experimentations! The unexpected defeat to the South-Africans, should be a pointer in this respect.

The players should work hard and work for each other! The defensive, mid-field and offensive departments, should play close to each other, at all times, and, that way, avoid giving up unnecessary space to the Camerounians.The more offensive players, should exhibit considerable mobility throughout the match, that way, they can evade the tight marking of the Camerounians. The players should be fully concentrated for all the minutes of action! They cannot afford to lose even one minute's concentration. The Camerounians will never give up, regardless of the score, till full time!

The Super Eagles players should not hesitate to attack from the blast of the whistle, notwithstanding the aforementioned characteristics of the Camerounians. But of course, attack with a decent measure of defensive discipline! The Super Eagles have talented players, who can, out-think, out-smart, out-fox, out-play and dominate the" Indomitable Lions" of Cameroun; and ensure victory!

In conclusion, notwithstanding the characteristics of the Camerounians, meethinks the Super Eagles, will get the desired results, from the double cracker, if the right players are selected, the players are correctly prepared both mentally and tactically, and with a decent measure of good luck! This is a scenario, your sincerely and all Nigerians, hope and pray for!