Completesportsnigeria.com’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI highlights the lessons learned from the Super Eagles’ drab goalless draw with Tanzania in their Saturday’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Dar es Salaam.
1. Carl Ikeme Is Good Alternative To Enyeama
The Man of the Match in Saturday’s game was undoubtedly Wolverhampton’s Carl Ikeme. The 29-year-old shot stopper was outstanding on Saturday and was the difference between a poor Super Eagles side and a defeat.
Ikeme justified his invitation to the Super Eagles with a heroic performance against the Taifa Stars.
However, it’s too early to call for Vincent Enyeama’s replacement outrightly. He remains Nigeria’s number one for now.
Despite the excellent debut of Ikeme, his understanding with the defenders is still vital. At a point in the game, he and Kenneth Omeruo got on the way of each other though thankfully the defender kicked the ball out of touch.
Enyeama still assures one of stability and organisation in the Nigerian defence.
2. Simon Moses Is Good Choice For The Left Wing
Simon Moses started on the left wing position and his pace and trickery was okay.
The Eagles have Ahmed Musa as the man for the right wing but the left side of attack is still open for the likes of Moses; Victor Moses, Emem Eduok etc.
Oliseh will do well to work on the effectiveness of his wingers’ crosses. They should also improve on their dead ball skills.
3. Average Performance Against ‘Average’ Teams
The Super Eagles of late have been churning out tepid performances. The confidence and composure of their supposedly smaller opposition like Tanzania clearly shows that teams in Africa no longer fear the once dreaded Super Eagles.
Nigeria were defeated by Congo in Uyo and held twice by South Africa within a year; these games proving costly as Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2015 African Cup of Nations where they would have defended the title they won two years earlier.
The Eagles were also defeated 1-0 by ‘minnows’ Uganda in a friendly game in March and held 2-2 by Ethiopia in a 2012 AFCON qualifier in Addis Ababa.
The Eagles no longer have a play-making talent in the mould of Austin Okocha whose moments of ingenuity can swing matches in favour of the team.
They lose balls carelessly in the midfield and their passes most times go astray.
Gone are the days opponents tremble at the thought of playing against the 1980, 1994 and 2013 AFCON winners.
4. The Poor Away Results Continue
The Super Eagles are bad travellers in the continent, and they have continued to do badly against teams that they ordinarily should have put to the swords.
In the 90’s, the Super Eagles were guaranteed of victories even on away grounds against teams such as Tanzania. The question often asked then was how many goals will the unfortunate opponents concede.
The likes of Rashidi Yekini, Daniel Amokachi, Samson Siasia, Austin Okocha and Victor Ikpeba would have buried the chances the likes of Emmanuel Emenike, Anthony Ujah, Ahmed Musa and Emem Eduok failed to convert on Saturday in Dar es Salaam.
The Eagles defeated South Africa and Sudan 4-0 in a 1994 and 2002 World Cups qualifiers respectively but such ruthless performances are almost not guaranteed these days.
The Eagles attack in particular is no longer potent and that is very worrying.
5. Uneasy Transition From Pundit To Coach
Perhaps pundits should be coaches even if for one game, so that they will understand the enormous pressure coaches go through.
Sunday Oliseh is a fantastic analyser of the game and one of the attributes of pundits is to criticise coaches, sometimes harshly.
Oliseh blew everyone away with his analysis and understanding of the game during the 2013 African Cup of Nations tournament with a pay tv channel, but on Saturday the former Eagles midfield star was under the spotlight.
The difference between the pundit and the coach is that while the pundit craves for the aesthetics, the coach is pragmatic with his approach.
Oliseh must have taken his lesson notes carefully on Saturday, and hopefully, that will translate to a better outing in the team’s next games because the Super Eagles performance in the match against Tanzania was very poor.