|Sunday, September 15, 2019|
"Victory nowadays in soccer, generally, don't happen through accidental/ coincidental happenstance, but through carefully articulated plans/policies, that are first of all made in the boardroom of the FA; before that can be translated through the coaches to the players on the soccer pitch."- Cyril C. Nwokeji
he Super Eagles of Nigeria went to Dnipro, Ukraine, saw, battled and nearly conquered the host team on home soil! It was a nearly perfect virtuoso performance from the Super Eagles of Nigeria! They played without complexes against the host team; battled with overwhelming confidence a team rated eleven places ahead of them on the FIFA ranking scale; and nearly took to the cleaners a team coached by one of the hitherto greatest strikers on the planet: Andrij Shevchenko!!!!!
That they generally played well was not in doubt; that they have improved on their 2019 Nations' cup performance was also not in doubt; but these facts notwithstanding, as lovers of the team, we owe the team a decent critical analysis of their performance, with a view to making them a better team in the future!
How did the team fare in the encounter?
One saw Goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, who was not only at his confident, majestic, sublime, vintage best, but was also tactically at another planet with his super fantastic performance!!!!!! He has directly made it clear to Coach Rohr, he deserves to be the Super Eagles' number one goalkeeper; a position he lost no thanks to his howler against the Seychelles earlier this year, in Asaba, Nigeria. He was marvellous on that day and helped Nigeria salvage a draw. Congrats to him!
The defence was generally ok. The full-backs: Ola Aina and Jamilu Collins, overlapped well and aided the Super Eagles offensive impulses. However, the central defensive area, was somewhat troubled, by waves of sustained Ukrainian pressure, when the hosts became desperate to get the equaliser. This was partially due to the lack of a solid combo between Stand-in Skipper William Troost-Ekong, alias "Rock of Gibralter", and new left-halfback convert, Semi Ajayi. They played for the first time together and, thus, it is understandable they couldn't form a solid combo. Another reason the central defence was not solid, had to do with the uneasiness Semi Ajayi apparently felt as left-half back. Apparently that is not his natural position as a player. He had difficulties coping with the sharp Ukrainian attackers. This is not blaming him, but rather encouraging him to further up his game! Congrats to the defenders!
The mid-field was for a greater part of the match effective: dynamic, ball-winning, showed great tempo and creative! One must congratulate: Etebo Oghenekaro, Alex Iwobi, alias "the dancing Krekel" and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, for their efforts in this wise! Thanks to their efficiency, they created a lot of opportunities which made the hosts trail for a long time. The young debutant, Joe Aribo, was very impressive, for a debutant. He has apparently fitted well into the Super Eagles' mid-field 'confraternity' in his first match! One hopes he continues in this stead, then Coach Rohr, would have found a decent compliment to Alex Iwobi; a piece of advice yours sincerely gave Coach Rohr, in the aftermath of the 2019 Nations' cup tournament, in my article titled: AFCON 2019 postscript and the way forward for the Super Eagles of Nigeria: URL: https://nigeriaworld.com/feature/publication/nwokeji/072119.html.
However, for all their fine performance, the mid-field exhibited some weaknesses: they were poor defensively! This was noticeable when the Ukrainians turned on the heat against Nigeria! This was apparently due to the use of two offensive mid-fielders, in Coach Rohr's 4-3-3 formation. The absence of a second defensive mid-fielder to complement Etebo Oghenekaro, was easily noticeable! This should be food for thought for Coach Rohr in the future matches. He should find the balance between playing attacking soccer and defending well!!!!!!
The offensive weelde was super, too super !!!!!! They lived up to their reputation of being Nigeria's biggest strength. A big congratulations to the attackers!
The "Adventurous" Samuel Kalu was super! The way and manner he trickishly 'eliminated' four Ukrainian players for the Super Eagles' first goal was noteworthy!
Victor Oshimen, has certainly grown as a centre-forward. He showed a great deal of improvement from his Nations' cup performance.
In conclusion, that the Super Eagles have a bright future is not in doubt. But the NFF must continue to ensure a good developmental environment that would make the team realise it's potentials! In this wise, one his happy the present NFF board will be in place till 2022 ; and, preferably, Coach Rohr, should remain coach at least till 2022!!!!!!
UP SUPER EAGLES ! UP NIGERIA !!!!!!!!!
The book "Super Eagles of Nigeria : Pride of Africa", can also be gotten through the author. One can contact the author through : firstname.lastname@example.org Please note in this case, payment of postage costs will be necessary