FEATURE ARTICLE

Monday, November 22, 2021
Nwokeji.cyril@gmail.com
Belgium
"THE BLUE SHARKS" OF CAPE VERDE, FORCE THE SUPER EAGLES OF NIGERIA TO A CLIFF-HANGER AFFAIR, IN LAGOS!

"The Super Eagles of Nigeria, have a bright future and can realise their immediate and long term ambitions, given the correct developmental environment." Cyril C. Nwokeji

"The retention of Coach Gernot Rohr, at least till 2022, is a conditio sine qua non for the Super Eagles of Nigeria to take the soccer world by storm, at the Qatar 2022 World cup competition." Cyril C. Nwokeji

t was indeed a cliff-hanger affair in the group's decider, for the winner's ticket to the final eliminator, Africa zone, of the 2022 Qatar world cup elimination series.

The Super Eagles came into the match as favourites for the group's ticket, with a two- point cushion at the top of the group, at the end of the penultimate match of the group's series. And also had the extra advantage of playing at home.

It all but appeared done and dusted for the Super Eagles, going into the final match of their group. But what somewhat surprised the Super Eagles, and indeed Nigerians, was the rugged determination of the Cape Verdians to cause an upset!

The Super Eagles' favourite status was immediately done justice, immediately after the start of hostilities, with a first minute goal by Victor Oshimen, alias "El Magnifico", who was undoubtedly, the "Man of the match", and, logically, the fans favourite!

However, this early advantage was almost immediately wiped off by the highly determined Cape Verdians, who capitalised on a lapse in concentration in the Nigerian defence, to rattle the Nigerians. The Super Eagles, subsequently, created a number of goal-bound chances, in the first half, five to be precise, which were fluffed!

It was in the first half that the Super Eagles should have taken the game away from the Cape Verdians , considering their dominance and the number of opportunities created. This lost opportunity of the first half, was to hunt the Super Eagles in the second half, as the hitherto dominated Cape Verdians, raised their game and coupled with the tactical re-organisation of the Super Eagles, which tinged towards defensive soccer, gave their opponents the chance to come at them. This resulted in the highly nervous finish for the Super Eagles and their fans , who were very nervous and at the edge of their seats in the closing minutes of the game. To finally characterise the match as a "cliff-hanger" one, at the blast of the Referee's final whistle!

Talking about Coach Rohr's tactics, he used the same tactics : 3-5-2 and same philosophy as in the last two matches, before the group's decider. Midway in the second half, when as an experienced and tactically shrewd/savvy coach, he foresaw the possible inability of the Super Eagles to score another goal, decided to preserve the Super Eagles slight advantage which was enough for them to move on.

He decided not to allow the opponents score again; much as he hoped for another Super Eagles' goal, he decided to protect the Super Eagles' advantage. His substitutions were quite defensive in nature. At a time, he changed the team's formation to : 3-6-1! The 6-man mid-field at that time, had four defensive mid-fielders! The instruction was clear: gradually 'kill' the game for the Cape Verdians, and try to score again if you can.

However, with four defensive mid-fielders, in a 6-man mid-field organisation, creativity was sacrificed, thus, creating chances for goals was difficult; consequently, the Super Eagles scored no other goal. The Cape Verdians were also as a consequence of Coach Rohr's tactical re-alignment , prevented from scoring. Thus, the logical score line at the end of proceedings was: 1-1 !

A soccer commentator said for the Super Eagles to get the 2022 World cup ticket in the final play-offs, they've got to improve their performance against Cape Verde. Yours sincerely is completely in agreement. But knowing the intrinsic qualities of the average Super Eagles' player, coupled with the superb tactical/ technical guidance of the highly experienced tactically shrewd and - savvy Coach Gernot Rohr, all things being equal, the Super Eagles should get past any opponent they would face in March 2022. Even if the opponent is presently high-flying with excellent performances in the group's eliminations, Coach Rohr, given his qualities, will analyse the team and together with the technical crew, plot the opponent's 'downfall' in the confrontation with Nigeria! However, we all hope for a good draw for the play-offs!

My above remarks about Coach Rohr's ability as a coach, should answer the numerous criticisms about his ability from Super Eagles' fans. They complain among others, that Coach Rohr doesn't have a defined pattern of play ; that the Super Eagles don't playing exciting soccer; that he is too defensive in his tactical approach and doesn't exploit fully the qualities of the Super Eagles' offensive players.

Yours sincerely doesn't agree with the above or other critical sentiments expressed about Coach Rohr. He is a good coach , tactically shrewd and - savvy! One cannot over-emphasise these facts. He is able to start a game with a certain tactical plan, and during the course of the game, make re-adjustments according to the circumstances on the pitch! Some of the critics or soccer analysts, with all due respects cannot even read the game! They see soccer from a 'superficial' perspective; they see more of the goals and thrills , without seeing the "behind -the -scenes" tactical organisation or even the tactical re-organisation that can take place during the course of a game. Sometimes, a coach may play unattractive soccer, to get a desired result! Like Coach Rohr did in the second half of the match against Cape Verde in Lagos. Some of the critics may be angry because of the absence of goals and thrills in the second half of that match. The critical question at this juncture is: Would it be better for Coach Rohr, to entertain the spectators with exciting soccer and may be lose the match? And concomitantly get eliminated from the 2022 World cup train. If this was the case, a lot of those excited and thrilled spectators, by the time reality downed on them, would call for the sacking of Coach Rohr!

We should continue to support the Super Eagles and the technical crew, and not destroy them with scathing negative criticisms. Constructive criticisms are always welcome. We are all stake holders in the Super Eagles project!

In conclusion, a very big congratulations to the Super Eagles of Nigeria for their hard-earned qualification to the final world cup elimination stages, African zone. Also a big congratulations to the Federal and state governments for their usual support and encouragement and also to fellow Nigerians and other Super Eagles supporters! And, certainly, not to forget the NFF, who mostly do the 'dirty' work, necessary to get the Super Eagles ready for any encounter. Their efforts are highly appreciated. We have indeed shown that the Super Eagles of Nigeria is our national treasure!

UP SUPER EAGLES! UP NIGERIA !!!!!!!!!

Also at the link below, one can come into contact with a number of items, needed to support the Super Eagles at "Cameroun 2021" !!!!!

https://teespring.com/stores/super-eagles-of-nigeria

The book "Super Eagles of Nigeria : Pride of Africa", can also be gotten through the author. One can contact the author through : nwokeji.cyril@gmail.com Please note in this case, payment of postage costs will be necessary

NEWS SECTIONS