Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lessons from the Uyo debacle

Last Wednesday’s international friendly between Nigeria and Uganda has continued to reverberate in many quarters as the loss has thrown up so much debate especially on social media.

The Super Eagles put up a lethargic performance (below) against a side many felt should have been easily disposed with at the Uyo International Stadium. Ranked number 42 in the world, the Eagles huffed and puffed against a side rated number 71 in the world to no avail

Daniel Amokachi, who handled the game against the East Africans, has promised a much more improved team in the next game against South Africa on Sunday in Nelspruit.

Despite the defeat, there were a few bright spots in an otherwise dour game characterised by some insipid displays and sloppy passing.

9jafooty takes a look at lessons learnt from the latest set back into the Super Eagles quest for glory.

Lost identity.

The Super Eagles have no identity right now. This is a statement of fact. Nigeria was known to be a team that plays fast attacking football through the wings to devastating effect, but sadly this isn't the case any more.

Uncharacteristically, the Eagles have become a hoof-a-poof side who can’t seem to please fans who troop in to support them. There is no definite pattern or football philosophy to their game of recent.

Evidently, the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations triumph has masked some of the core issues at stake. A lot has been left undone and what we see now is a team that struggles even at home.

Fear factor? All but gone.

Back in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, teams coming to Nigeria were always on an edge because facing the Eagles on home soil was akin to being a ‘Daniel in the lion’s den’.

The National Stadium in Lagos was a fortress of sorts. Teams felt intimidated and hardly got anything from matches with the Eagles. The fans were vociferous in their support for the team which was an added advantage.

However, this isn't the case especially post Afcon 2013. Congo broke the hoodoo and it’s been chop-sticks since then. South Africa and most recently Congo have had joy in Nigeria, which ordinarily wouldn't have happened back in the day.

Teams come to Nigeria knowing fully well they can play will and win. The fear factor is gone. We are no more the ace of spades.

Leon Balogun, spark of hope.

The Darmstadt defender was one of the shining lights in an otherwise disappointing evening for the Super Eagles.

Balogun put on a scintillating display that showed he can do the business for Nigeria at the problematic right back position, which has been Nigeria’s nemesis for long time.

Assured in the tackle and willing to go forward, Balogun has shown he can mix it up on the big stage and hopefully he can bring something extra to the team. He, alongside Moses Simon were bright sparks in a timid Nigerian display.

Improved coaching

It’s quite evident that the Super Eagles need to improve on their tactics because for the umpteenth time, the team were out maneuvered by sides who have read them well and capitalised on their weaknesses.

Uganda coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic told that he had studied the Nigerian team and players and it wasn't hard for him to be able to neutralise Nigeria.

Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba also said same when Nigeria had to force the visitors to a 2-2 draw at the Akwa Ibom Stadium during the 2015 Afcon qualifiers.

There is something fundamentally wrong somewhere.

Long balls have become the norm for Nigeria. Transition from defence to attack is a pain to watch, surely the coaching crew would have to fix some of these things.

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