Super Eagles qualification for the knockout stages of the World Cup was no surprise to me. I had foreseen that going by their progression in performance as the group games went on. But then, one thing that I was not particularly happy about was our defeat by Argentina in that last group game.
But irrespective of whatever that may have happened, despite the lovely performance of the Super Eagles in that match, we had cause to be happy that even though we lost, at least we were able to get past the group stage which we last achieved in 1998 in France.
Now faced with France, our first time of meeting them at the World Cup level if I’m not mistaken, we can’t but expect the best of results. Personally, like I said last week, I have the confidence the Eagles will go past France. The indices are there. Our boys have the quality of raising their game as the matches come. This they have demonstrated and proved overtime.
This, I believe, won’t be an exception. Again, the players’ confidence has soared and there is this belief in them now that, yes, we can do it. Coach Stephen Keshi should stick to the players who have come to understand each other and cover up for each other. He can vary his tactical approach by stuffing the midfield to outnumber the Les Bleus..
In this case, I feel the 4-5-1 formation could be preferred. In adopting this formation, Keshi should drum it loud and clear to John Obi Mikel to always defend deep and also time his attacking runs. If he does this, and well too, the Super Eagles defence will not suffer much as the midfield will also function well. Once the midfielders are able to get the ball, the final third will be okay and the attackers will be able to convert the chances that come their way. France has been known to be effective in the midfield. This has manifested in their group games where they scored as many as 10 goals in three (group E) games. This is not entirely down to the ruthlessness of their attackers but down more to the efficiency of their midfielders. Once we outnumber and out play them in that area, and our striker potent enough to convert their chances, victory will be ours.
I don’t have any doubt we’ll win. There’s no much difference in their players compared to our. And when it comes to physicality, the Super Eagles have an advantage and this will make all the difference.