The Nigeria Super Eagles team, have done absolutely well for themselves so far, at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, tournament in Egypt, going as far as the Semi-final, against so many’s expectation, before they eventually lost to the Desert Foxes of Algeria, by 2 goals to 1 on Sunday night.
Many had foreseen that the team is not well prepared enough to clinch the winners trophy, due to several factors affecting the team. Some of which are lack of a centre midfielder, lack of much experienced players in the team and many believed that the Super Eagles came to the AFCON tournament without a goalkeeper, undermining the abilities of South Africa based Daniel Akpeyi. Some are even of the opinion that the Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr is doing more harm than good, to Nigerian football, as he went to the AFCON tournament without a home based player, in the team.
As against late Coach, Stephen Keshi who gave home based players opportunity, at the AFCON 2013 and eventually won the tournament, for Nigeria. A feat he was able to achieve in 1994 as the Super Eagles team Captain in Tunisia and Head Coach of the same team in 2013.
Some surprises which were expected is the inclusion of Italy based defender, Ola Aina and Spain based forward Samuel Chukwueze, both who proved right their inclusion anytime they wear the Super Eagles jersey on the pitch, in Egypt. While Turkey based Henry Onyekuru only had his opportunity as a substitute, against the Desert Foxes of Algeria, in the Semi-final match. The Coach is yet to field young Victor Osimhen, who plays in the Belgian league.
A fortunate Chidozie Awaziem saw himself a regular in the team after Shehu Abdullahi picked an injury, at the early moment of the tournament, Abdullahi was declared unfit for the rest of the tournament unfortunately.
A lucky Kenneth Omeruo, came back fully as Super Eagles first choice in the last line of the team’s defence and is in the hierarchy of Captaincy, next to Ahmed Musa in the present Eagles squad in Egypt, fortunately the Chelsea player on loan is in a top form, but not strong enough to cage the Desert Foxes of Algeria, in the Semi-final match clash.
According to the Algerian national team Coach, he knew the Super Eagles will be coming at them directly through the flanks, assaulting them through wingers, Ahmed Musa and Samuel Chukwueze and they did all their best to cage the wingers, an effort which earned the Algerians a win over the Eagles.
He also said they are quite aware that the Eagles defenders are good but not fast, an understanding they took advantage of, coming directly at the Eagles defence, which left them struggling till that unfortunate foul that led to a last minute free-kick which Man City forward and the Algerian Captain, Riyad Mahrez converted to a goal. No thanks to Udinese defender, William Troost Ekong’s own goal of the match which gave the Algerians an earlier lead before Odion Ighalo’s equaliser through penalty.
From my point of view, the Nigerian defenders still have a lot of work to do, recall Leon Balogun had an own goal in Russia world cup last year, his sluggish response to a pass from John Ogu also cost us a goal against Madagascar in the earlier group stage match at the ongoing AFCON tournament in Egypt. Back in the days, Uche Okechukwu and even Taribo West don’t concede own goal so easily like that. They position themself always to be at the right place and at the right time.
Also it is high time from my point of view, that Wilfred Ndidi should understand, that hard tackles can make you a super defensive midfielder, but he should be able to know when and how to make such call. Such tackles had cost us defeat against Madagascar and Algeria.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria, will encounter the Carthage Eagles, of Tunisia, in the third place match, at the ongoing AFCON tournament in Egypt, on Wednesday 19th of July, 2019. Go for Victory Eagles, let’s have the bronze medal. Lastly i see a future Super Eagles Coach in Mikel Obi, he may yet be our next "Stephen Keshi" in victories.
By Dare Gbadebo Editor-in-chief,
Naija Online TV.