Saturday, October 8, 2022
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s the title of this piece suggests, the Super Eagles of Nigeria were 'robbed' of a much better result in the friendly match cracker against Algeria, on their home front of Oran.

The officiating was so below average that a good second goal scored by the Super Eagles was unjustifiably disallowed for a phantom offside call!

If that goal had been allowed, with scores standing at 2-0 against the Algerians at home, they would have been forced to open their flanks in all aspects to try to save the match. This would have made them more vulnerable to the characteristic Super Eagles' fast offensive counters. Who knows they might have conceded more goals as a consequence!

But unfortunately for the Super Eagles and by implication for African soccer, the referee either by accident or design, played a negative roll on behalf of the Algerians.

Also, the penalty awarded the Algerians was controversial! Nigeria's Frank Onyeaka's leg made contact with that of his opponent's , after the Algerian had kicked the ball!

A better officiating would most likey have given the Super Eagles of Nigeria a better result!

However, notwithstanding the 'hullaballoo' about poor officiating , truth must be told about the Super Eagles' performance on that day:

Goalkeeper Francis Uzoho's criticisms by some Super Eagles' supporters, in my considered opinion, is not justified. The bone of contention, the second Algerian goal, from my observation, is not his fault. His view/sights was blocked by a mass of players from both sides, as a consequence of a corner kick to Algeria, which was taken in an uncoventional way, which resulted in the ball being sent to an unmarked Algerian player, midway into the Nigerian territory. His first time hit on the ball, was seen by goalkeeper Uzoho, as a consequence of the aforementioned reason, a second too late, and that resulted in the second Algerian goal.

Goalkeeper Uzoho, should not be 'crucified' for an 'offence' he didn't commit, because of our 'complex' for the notion of not having yet world class goalkeepers! In my considered opinion, he put-up a creditable performance on that day!

The defence line was solid, notwithstanding the two unfortunate goals conceded. The Algerians didn't split open Nigeria's defence for their goals; but scored through fortuitous circumstances! Unlike Nigeria's disallowed second goal, which was scored after the Algerian defence had been flattened in a swift counter attack!

As a matter of fact, for all of the duration of the match, the Algerians didn't create a decent scoring chance, notwithstanding their superior ball possesion! This shows a well-knit Super Eagles' defence, which was marshalled by new libero: Jonathan Akpoguma and ably supported by new left-half back sensation: Calvin Bassey! The full-backs : Ola Aina and Zaidu Sanusi, did well and were part of the successful defensive story.

In my considered opinion, Coach Peseiro should, barring any last-minute injuries, start the same defensive line in their next match against Costa Rica.

The mid-field, was the achilles heel of the team. The 4-4-2 formation used by the coach which stipulates the use of 4 mid-fielders : one defensive mid-fielder, one central mid-fielder and two wing offensive/cum fielders.

The problem of the Super Eagles' mid-field, was most especially with the wing- offensive mid-fielders, who had a double job description in the tactical formation of Coach Peseiro. They were supposed to attack like conventional wingers, in a Super Eagles' offensive push; and retract sufficiently into mid-field, whenever the Super Eagles lost possession and came under pressure.

The second aspect of the job description as mid-fielders or co- mid-fielders, was not well carried out by stand-in skipper Moses Simon and Ademola Lukman, who played in these positions. While they fell back when needed, they didn't fall back efficiently! For example, they fell back, but didn't mark-out the Algerians strongly enough for the ball. In other words, their ball-winning ability was below average! In subsequent matches, Coach Peseiro, should tell them, when to fall back, how to fall , and how to fight more efficiently for the ball!

Their inefficiency in the second aspect of their job description, made the Algerians sweep away 'lone ranger' Alex Iwobi, in the mid-field battle, despite his yeo-man's efforts! Frank Onyeaka, couldn't help him in this regard, because he had his hands full as defensive mid-fielder.

The offensive line did their best under the circumstances; and could have done more given more ball supplies from the mid-field. Kudos to the goal scorer: Terem Morfi and his striking partner: Kelechi Iheanacho. Moses Simon and Ademola Lukman, did well in their winged-offensive responsibilities, given the circumstances.

In conclusion,

With all due respects to Coach Peseiro's efforts, me thinks his tactical prosecution of that match, was below average!

When the Algerians usurped the control of the mid-field, one expected a decent reaction from him. But one saw practically none. He could have, as 'stop-gap' measure, temporarily, withdrawn Kelechi Iheanacho from his supporting striker's role , to the mid-field, to help Alex Iwobi in central mid-field. And, as a consequence, tweaked his tactical formation, from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3! This would have stemmed the tide of the Algerian mid-field dominance!

The Algerian mid-field dominance, resulted in their two goals.

It's still early days to judge Coach Peseiro. But his record thus far of : two victories and three defeats in five matches, is below average. He needs to improve his record to stand a good chance of getting a contract renewal at the end of his first stint.

Nigerians and the other suporters, love the Super Eagles dearly and cannot compromise on standards!



and "Super Eagles of Nigeria in the New Era", also presently on sale on www. Amazon.com


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