THE RISING BELIEF IN THE SUPER EAGLES OF NIGERIA, IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE 4-0 VICTORY OVER THE LIBYANS!
Alex Iwobi congratulates Odion Ighalo
he above mentioned score line victory over the Libyans certainly shows the class difference between both teams. However, for over sixty minutes of the game, the Libyans appeared to effectively match the Super Eagles in all departments of the game. As a matter of fact, at the end of the first half, the Libyans had a slight advantage in ball possession. They even came close to scoring once, if not for the growing brilliance/confidence of goalkeeper Francis Uzoho. The young man has certainly grown in confidence, and is now the unquestionable No. 1 goalkeeper of the Super Eagles of Nigeria!!!!!
What went wrong with the Super Eagles' performance in the first sixty minutes of the game? Or rather, why did the Super Eagles, initially, have difficulties subduing a more lowly rated team like Libya?
Me thinks the Super Eagles' mid-field combination of: Wilfred Ndidi- defensive mid-fielder; Etebo Oghenekaro- box- to- box player and Alex Iwobi- offensive mid-fielder/ play maker, just didn't work effectively, for the first sixty minutes of the game. Soccer is a team event, having players who are individually talented is not enough to build a great team. Team work is very much needed to have a great soccer side. According to Coach Jose Mourinho, only a team wins ( not individual players )! These three Super Eagles' midfielders are certainly, individually, highly talented players; apparently, because they played together for the first time, they couldn't strike the necessary combination needed to take out the Libyans much earlier on. As a consequence, only the opportunism of Odion Ighalo in the second minute of the first half, separated the two teams. It took time before they understood each other, and when they did, the Libyans fell like a pack of cards, as the Super Eagles banged in three more goals, to win the match, by a convincing score line of: 4-0!
One must mention the special role played by Alex Iwobi. He was provider of two goals. He confirms my earlier analysis that his best position for Nigeria, is as an offensive/ central/ creative mid-fielder. A "number 10", playing behind the strikers. Readers refer to my earlier article titled:" Lessons from the surprising and shocking defeat to the South-Africans."
The Super Eagles' defensive line was solid. Not even the injury to right back: Shehu Abdullahi, much early in the game, could destabilise the defence. Shehu Abdullahi's replacement: Ola Aina, was a capable replacement. The young man at left back: Jamilu Collins, who made his debut in a competitive match, was quite impressive. He played without nerves, and even came close to scoring in the first half! As usual William Troost -Ekong and Leon Balogun, have struck a marvellous combination at the heart of the Super Eagles' defence, to give their central defensive combination, the name( in local parlance):" The Oyibo Wall"!!!!; and their co-operation at the heart of the Super Eagles' defence the name (also in local parlance): "the Oyibo connection", for obvious reasons!!!!!!
The offensive "weelde", was without effective bite for greater periods of the match, no thanks to the earlier-mentioned mid-field problems. But when they found their range, there was no stopping them. Odion Ighalo, took particular advantage to score a hat-trick!!!!! The other young man, the adventureous Samuel Kalu, after a number of missed attempts, eventually, found his range, to make it four goals for Nigeria. Skipper Ahmed Musa, had a rather quite game, one hopes he explodes in the second leg. One took note of Henry Onyekuru's role in getting the fourth goal. He was a superb/skilful provider. And further confirms his Super Eagles' place!
In conclusion, the Super Eagles, were super ( for the last thirty minutes of the game), in their offensive 4-3-3 formation. They have won the first of the double header against Libya. Nigerians expect them to confirm this victory, in the return leg, by defeating the Libyans again, at "home", in Tunisia. That way they would confirm their victory, in Uyo, was no fluke, and, most importantly, come closer to getting the ticket to the Nations' cup tournament, in 2019; and, thus, help assuage the frayed nerves of Nigerians, who are still smarting from the failed qualification to the 2015 and 2017 editions of the Nations' cup tournament. It is doable!