Eagles in Brazil and Maters Arising By Ikenna Enent

After the first leg of the World Cup qualifiers in Addis Ababa, the Super Eagles were one leg in Brazil for the World Cup holding next year. The 1-2 victory, courtesy of a brace by Fenerbache’s Emmanuel Emenike, was good enough to fly the Eagles to Brazil. Therefore, what every Nigerian football follower needed to see was a relaxed Super Eagles in Calabar during the return leg. On a day Victor Moses scored from the penalty spot and Obinna Nsofor whipped in a marvelous free kick to seal a two nil victory at the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar, the deal was signed, sealed and delivered. The game wasn’t exactly electrifying as the Eagles benefited from a controversial decision by the referee and had a penalty kick awarded to them. A spot kick that was duly dispatched by Victor Moses. As pointed out, few expected the game to be electrifying. No realistic person expected the game to be soaked with tension as the Eagles needed just a draw to cement the qualification spot.

One positive thing Nigerians have taken from the Super Eagles under Keshi is the beautiful cord struck by Mikel Obi and Onazi Ogenyi in the centre of midfield. The duos have been able to read and understand themselves so much that the flow of game between the two instills hope in Nigerians. The midfield seems to be the core of Keshi’s team. Little wonder then, the abundance of talented and effective midfielders in the team. Nosa Igiebor when fit, can be worked into the team. Sunday Mba, John Ogu, Gabriel Reuben and co can equally provide the much needed depth and cover for the midfield. Were there lapses in the defence? For instance, in the game against Ethiopia in Calabar, opinions hold that Kenneth Omeruo shouldn’t have started the game. This is simply because his fitness level. He has been out for months due to injury, and recently resumed training fully. Therefore, I think he shouldn’t have started the game. The Eagles gaffer should have stuck with Godfrey Oboabona and Azubuike Egwuekwe in the heart of defence. Also, Efe Ambrose seems to always forget that he is primarily a defender. Yes, modern football demands that the full back join attack occasionally, but it shouldn’t be to the detriment of the team.

Echiejile on the left flank equally have same issue, but it is not as pronounced as Efe Ambrose. Sometimes he will join the attack, and when he or the team loses the ball, he is found wanting on his defensive duties. The one person who seem to be  fully composed in the defence line is Godfrey Oboabona. Generally, the defence line is unorganized. Keshi has to find a solution to the disorganization in the defence. The defenders are good individually, but then, football is a team sport. They have to be together as a unit. A club like Barcelona does not have a fantastic defence line. But their organization at the back has become legendary. Most of their attacks are built from the back. That said, the technical crew is expected to find a solution to the defensive issues.

Equally worthy of note is the seeming lack of technicality, generally. I don’t know exactly what Daniel Amokachi’s job description states, but Keshi seem to be alone in his own area. I don’t know whether to suggest that a technical person be employed and attached to work under Keshi, but I sure know we lack in the mentioned area. This however, is something that can be worked out by Keshi. Technical inputs of men like Khalika under Siasia, Karanka under Mourinho and AVB under Mourinho saw their respective teams excel technically. Also, I wonder what the job of the team psychologist is. Because all of a sudden, Brown Ideye have become a shadow of himself. He may not have been a Rooneylike or Ibrahimoviclike kind of player, but he is not the player we used to know. Something is wrong. It is not my job to find out and help him regain confidence and form. It is someone’s job. The person should be made to do it. We can’t be inviting players and then after they give their best and there is a loss of form or player is injured, then we discard him or her. Efforts should be put into our players’ all round development.

 If we cross our “t” and dot our “I”, we will have a glorious World Cup. If not, we will come back with the same old story. Nigerians are already beginning to have this feeling that the team can go beyond a certain stage at the World Cup in Brazil. Imagine then, if the team goes all out and make a resounding impact and who knows, go all the way. The feeling is purely orgasmic. All hands must be on deck to ensure a fruitful World Cup for Nigeria and the Super Eagles. The players too, need a successful outing as it will enrich their CV’s and further enhance their market values. As we await the December World Cup draws, Nigerians remain optimistic.

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