A lot of us are hurting from Super Eagles’ abysmal performance that saw us get knocked out from the qualifiers meaning that we will not be participating in next year’s AFCON. It’s worse knowing that we won the ‘unwinnable’ match only to lose the winnable one. Well, I’ll rather stop talking about that game because well, everyone knows the story already.
Our attention now shifts to the big one, our chance of landing a trophy this season- The Federations Cup finals against Dolphins of Port Harcourt. We head into this one as favorites as well as the Federations Cup holders. Again currently nursing the pain of losing the title to Pillars because of a 1-1 draw with Dolphins, we should be seething to finish them up at the finals on Sunday.
However, this game is one we should approach with both caution and zest. They finished in 9th place, 9 points from us but in such Cup games, it is your form on the day that counts. The lads are already camped at Abeokuta where we played two of the Federation Cup fixtures and won both. Well, expect a full preview tomorrow.
But then I had a chance to look again at weekend’s match against Kano Pillars and I wish to mention a few things from that game. Despite our impressive 3-1 victory, we looked very ordinary for most periods of the game. Strayed passes, wrong decision making, rash challenges and poor defending was there for all to see for most periods of the game.
I will like to see a lot of work done on our defending. As consistent and strong as Chinedu Udoji has been this season, I still don’t fancy his marking style. Of course every Center back must be strong and fearsome to the opposing strikers but seeing how he jumps into challenges, he leaves himself susceptible to bookings. The referee might be lenient when you’re playing at home but for a Cup final such displays could see you get sent off.
I’m not sure why Uche John (who by the way netted twice in the Federations Cup this season) has not been involved in the recent past. I will like to see him pair up with Emma Anyanwu while Rasheed sits just in front if that backline.
Ugwu Uwadiegwu is also another player who did not have a very good game by his own high standards against Kano Pillars. For one who missed a chunk of the past couple of weeks due to injury, his poor first touch and losing possession in that game can be explained but switching off defensively a times especially in the first half should not be.
I believe Kadiri Ikhana understands what is at stake here and how he must set up his team to ensure we successfully defend the trophy. He rejoined us during the mid season break in the heat of the Federations Cup competition and his impact was tangible at the time. We went 8 matches in all competitions losing only once – Giwa in Jos and winning the rest. But well, as the season came to a close it kind of became business as usual once again.
Our players did not train before beating Pillars but trust me, it was paper over cracks, on another day, with something more at stake, we could have lost that game.
Let’s trust that the gaffer and the players give this game the preparation it deserves in order to bring the trophy home.