Posted by News Express | 4 December 2022 | 427 times
In a pre-World Cup friendly encounter against Portugal recently, Nigeria lost 4-0 in a match they failed to show the good standard expected of a top footballing nation. We completely frown at the poor display of the national team which was a further indication that the Super Eagles was not good enough for the FIFA World Cup this term. The Eagles’ defence was a disaster especially in the second half of the friendly encounter.
William Troost- Ekong, the captain of the team and main man in the defence, was just average and he was weak in coordinating the back line. The three other positions at the back are still fluid as players are in and out. Shehu Abdullahi, a regular right-back, is no longer in the fray while the left-backs keep changing with Calvin Bassey holding the position now.
The return of Wilfred Ndidi for the Portugal game after an injury spell did not help much as the team generally lacked coordination and leadership. There was no one talking to the players to psyche them up and do the right thing on the pitch. Bright Osayi-Samuel who was in the defence against Portugal showed promise but already there are two other players in that same position for the Eagles.
We make bold to say Manager Jose Peseiro has not impacted enough technical input into this team since he took over in May. The expected creativity in the middle was not there against Portugal. Alex Iwobi, who was expected to provide the chances for other strikers, was lost upfront chasing glory for himself, an indication that the manager’s style is still not being imbibed by the players. The attack was dead in the absence of Victor Osimhen because Terem Moffi did nothing against Portugal. The manager should have started Paul Onuachu who improved the Nigerian team when he came in.
Ademola Lookman and Emmanuel Dennis are yet to be fully integrated into the team and that is why Samuel Chukwueze and Moses Simon are still the preferred forward men operating down the flanks. How each of them will be deployed is the big task before Peseiro who has so much to do with this team if Nigeria is to make an impact at the international stage.
The domestic football league expected to also serve as a feeder to the Eagles has been off in the past five months while the age-grade teams are not providing the expected transition to bring up the younger ones to join the Eagles. A former international, Sylvanus Okpala last week lamented Nigeria’s absence at the ongoing Mundial in Qatar and added that it was important to start preparations for the next World Cup now.
“We need to start the preparation and if we do not start now, then there is going to be a problem. We are missing a lot for the World Cup failure, the money for appearance, money for going past the first round are some of those things while we should also remember that football is a serious business, we need to think fast and start building the team towards the next World Cup,” Okpala said. New NFF boss, Ibrahim Gusau, must decide if Peseiro is staying or not so that the Eagles can develop better to compete well among the best at the global stage. We observed that the ongoing FIFA World Cup has been explosive from the first round of matches in Qatar.
While some favourite teams recorded easy wins as expected, other favourites were taken to the cleaners courtesy of stunning upsets. England was ruthless with a 6-2 win over Iran as Bukayo Saka got a brace. France also defeated Australia 4-1 with former Arsenal striker, Olivier Giroud, on target twice and Spain were also ruthless, beating Costa Rica 7-0. Sadly the story was not the same for Argentina as the highly rated team, led by Lionel Messi, lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in the opening group tie in which the South Americans scored first. The drama continued with a similar fate for Germany as they scored first against Japan only to lose the encounter 2-1.
No doubt, the ongoing unusual World Cup will still witness more unusual results. African representatives are also playing their role as Tunisia held Denmark to a 0-0 draw and lost second match 1-0 to Australia just as Morocco also played goalless against Russia 2018 beaten finalists, Croatia. It was, however, two late goals that gave Holland an edge over African champions Senegal while Cameroon lost 1-0 to Switzerland. The Senegalese bounced back with a 3-1 win over Qatar in the second match. So far, the standard of the game and the level of competition have been very high.
Every team is striving towards creating a good image for the country and continent they represent. It is difficult watching the Mundial games without thinking about the Super Eagles that lost the ticket to Ghana in the African playoff even when the Ghanaians were there for the taking. We stress therefore that there must be deliberate effort to strengthen the Eagles for the next World Cup and the time to start that is NOW!
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