The Home Eagles made a slow start to the 2018 African Nations Championship(CHAN) on Monday playing out a drab 0-0 draw with Rwanda in their opening Group C game in Tangier. Ahead of the second group game against Libya on Friday Completesportsnigeria.com’s JOHNNY EDWARD outlines five things Salisu Yusuf’s men must do to record their first win at the tournament.
1. The Home Eagles Must Be Clinical In Front Of Goal
Salisu Yusuf’s men recorded 18 shots on goal and six on target in their first Group C match against Rwanda. Three of those efforts hit the crossbar. The trio of Anthony Okpotu, Sunday Faleye and Emeka Ogbugh who had scoring chances in the game must be clinical against a Libyan side that was not really tested defensively in their opening game win against Equatorial Guinea. Also Kano Pillars midfielder, Rabiu Ali, who supposedly is the team’s play-maker must also do more to ensure his crisp passes beat the defence of Libya for his forwards to score.
2. Salisu Must Change His Approach
The Home Eagles need more than one player to dictate the pace of the game, to stand a chance of defeating Libya on Friday. Coach Salisu Yusuf deployed a 4-3-3 formation in his opening game restricting Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, playing in the deep lying role to just the ball winning duties which unarguably is his primary assignment.
The Akwa United midfielder can do more than what he offered against Rwanda by influencing the game more if he is also allowed to launch attack from his defensive position. By doing that, Rabiu Ali could also get the freedom to move up front and closer to Anthony Okpotu who was isolated for the better part of the match against Rwanda. Okechukwu Azubuike is another player with experience who can come on at some stage in the game to offer more threat in attack for the Home Eagles.
3. Okpotu Needs More Support In The Attack
Parading Anthony Okpotu, a last season top scorer in the Nigeria Professional Football League, didn’t help the Home Eagles in their opening game against Rwanda last Monday. The Lobi Stars marksman who scored 17 goals for the Markudi outfit was isolated in the attack and barely got the needed support from his teammates to get off the mark in the competition.
The inexperienced duo of Sunday Faleye and Emeka Ogbugh did not really support Okpotu who was restricted to half chances for the 78 minutes he featured in the game. Despite the lack of support, Okpotu had three attempts on goal. But that must change if the team are to stand a chance of defeating group leaders, Libya.
4. Top Players Must Raise Their Game
Top stars in the Home Eagles were far from their best in their opening game. The likes of Osas Okoro, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Rabiu Ali, Anthony Okpotu did not really stamp their authority in the game against Rwanda. Ali in particular, who touched the ball more than any player during the game, failed to create clear cut chances and also failed to take his chances despite coming close to scoring twice.
For all their qualities as individuals (Okoro, Ifeanyi, Ali and Okpotu), they proved defiantly ineffective in changing the course of the game against
Rwanda. Not one of the quartet showcased any genuine leadership that the team can turn to in times of adversity.
5. Coach Salisu’s Need Good Luck
In every facet of life, we all need a bit of luck to pull through despite the hard work and efforts put into a task. The Home Eagles’ game against Rwanda saw Salisu Yusuf’s men firing 18 shots on goal, three on target and they also crashed the woodwork three times in their opening game. Undoubtedly, they were unlucky that none of those strikes went in. Against Libya the Home Eagles must pray that they lightening doesn’t strike twice.