Thursday, August 15, 2013

5 things we learnt from South Africa vs Nigeria

Austin Ejide can do the business:

Austin Ejide looks a capable replacement for Vincent Enyeama with an assured performance against the Bafana Bafana.

The tall former Gabros International shot-stopper has grown in leaps and bounds and he manifested such in his overall performance in the Mandela Challenge friendly.

Even though he was hardly tested, he came up tall when needed, he was very calm and assured collecting crosses and worked his area very well. His positioning and ball handling has also improved tremendously over the years.

He was massive in the Mexico friendly prior to the World Cup qualifier with Kenya and has also shown in this game that Nigeria shouldn't be too bothered if the new Lille Metropole number one is not available for selection.

The Hapoel Be'er Sheva of Israel shot stopper has proven to be a capable assistant for Vincent Enyeama for over a decade, and one can have to fear to say he can step in when needed to do the job for the Super Eagles.

Ogenyi Onazi is the truth:

pic courtesy:
No, not the truth in that sense of the word, but Onazi, unheralded when he came into the Eagles set up and used in different positions, has become the undisputed water carrier for the Super Eagles.

The former My People FC midfielder was an unsung hero in Nigeria's match towards the winning the African Nations Cup early in the year and has followed up with some outstanding displays in the middle of the park for the Super Eagles.

Always looking to break down opposition plays and nipping at attackers, he has become the pivot to which the Eagles build on their attacking threat.

Onazi might not be the finished product, but he isn't far from it, his positioning, general awareness and most importantly his ball distribution needs to be worked on, and that will come as the youngster makes the expected progress at Lazio and the Super Eagles.

Godfrey Oboabona has tipped the scales:

Brought into the Super Eagles by coach Stephen Keshi as a raw, starry eyed defender from Akure club Sunshine Stars, the Ondo-born defender has actually made the weigh class and alongside Sunday Mba, is the poster boy for the Glo Nigeria Professional League.

The centre back has continued to progress and is now the first name to be called upon in the defence by coach Stephen Keshi as his mobility and awareness has enabled him to tip the scales and actually be counted as a decent first choice for Nigeria.

There are a few raw patches in his game, but again he has proved to be a fast learner as his progression has been steady since the "big boss" took over.

Oboabona, who is on a verge of moving to Europe was colossal in the game against South Africa, he made very few mistakes in the defence and led the line impressively as the Super Eagles kept a clean sheet, this can only portray well for the country as the road to Brazil 2014 gathers momentum.

Wing play is the 'real play':

Nigeria has produced a lot of fantastic wingers over the years and our 'golden era' when we won the Nations Cup in 1994 and the Olympics in 1996 was a testament to our traditional way of playing.
Nigerian greats like Segun Odegbami, Felix Owolabi, Finidi George and Emmanuel Amunike epitomized the concept of wing play and this helped Nigeria to the summit of African and World football. In the 80's and 90's.

It would do s a world of good if we can to revert to wing play and play to our strengths as shown by the introduction of Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa in the second half. Their presence changed the complexion of the game as the Super Eagles were more offensive and became a threat down the flanks.

The inter-change of play down the wings freed up some space in the middle which culminated to the two goals scored by VVV Venlo's Uche Nwofor. This system can be a potent weapon for the Eagles as we have pacy and tricky wingers that can do damage.

A 4-3-3 system as usually deployed by Stephen Keshi can be switched to a more traditional 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2 and vice versa depending on the opposition that the Super Eagles are facing.

The more the merrier:

pic courtesy: getty images

With due respect to the Bafana Bafana, the Eagles are going to meet tougher opposition as qualification for Brazil 2014 builds momentum, but one thing that is reassuring is that Nigeria won't be short of players to do the business and competition for spaces couldn't be much stiffer than it is now.

Coach Stephen Keshi has continued to insist that he is still rebuilding his team, which translates to more opportunities for players to fight for slots in the team.

This chop and change concept has thrown up a whole bunch of players who want to show they can play a part in the rebuilding process and are staking a claim to a starting berth in the Super Eagles.

Top of this class is Academica de Coimbra midfielder John Ogu who had a decent game against South Africa. He held the midfield well in the absence of Mikel Obi and his versatility has seen him saddled with both offensive and defensive duties in the midfield on different occasion.

pic courtesy AFP

The 25 year old won his seventh cap against the Bafana Bafana, and has looked a decent addition to the Super Eagles midfield since he made his debut in the Fifa World Cup qualifier against Kenya in Calabar in March.

Former Anambra United forward Uche Nwofor is another prospect that has emerged to be reckoned with. He did his chances in the team a world of good by his two well taken goals.
His back-heeled goal clearly shows he has a poachers instinct and could be a very much needed 'fox in the box' that Nigeria needs.

The VVV Venlo striker, who top scored for Nigeria at the Africa Youth Championship in South Africa in 2011 was also at the right spot to tuck in Ahmed Musa's cross for his second goal of the game which shows he has some characteristics that the Super Eagles need, given the plethora of chances missed at the Confederations Cup.

Coach Stephen Keshi has repeatedly hinted that he will try out more players and give others a chance to show him what they are capable of doing as he tries to build a solid team for the country.
Competition for spaces will be stiffer than ever as more players prove their mettle to try and win over Coach Stephen Keshi, and in this case too many cooks won't spoil the soup, and I dare add that 'the more, the merrier'.

1 comment:

  1. Nigerian team has proved that they are best in African continent -