By Onochie Anibeze, Group Sports Editor
Austin Jay Jay Okocha was enveloped by momentary madness the moment he saw Tunisiaâ€™sÂ Derragi Oussma run into a wide space created for him by Taye Taiwo.
He had all the time to adjustÂ and run deeper into Green Eagles goal area. It was two minutes to full time and Nigeria were leading 2-1 in a game they needed the victory to be in serious contention for a World Cup final slot.
The Derragi move made Okocha crazy as he saw how close he was. The former Eagles captain was close to the touchline. He is a member of the Presidential Task Force saddled with the responsibility of ensuring Nigeriaâ€™s qualification.
In his hotel room shortly after the match Okocha, so disappointed and down,Â told the story of his momentary madnessÂ while hissing and grumbling audibly.
â€œI saw that move and I went crazy. Crazy things passed through my mind in seconds and I felt like rushing into the field to hold the Tunisian player. I donâ€™t know what could have happened but I could have stopped the goal. I almost ran into the pitch. And they scored with that move, so I could have still dashed into the field to hold that guy.
The penalty from FIFA could be banning me from watching live games for a period but Nigeria could have had the chance to go to the World Cup.Â Honestly, I went crazy and thought of running into the field.Â And see what eventually happened. I am just wondering why the players did not kill the game. We were leading 2-1 and it was few minutes to full time. You did not need anybody to tell you how to kill the game. In such a situation, If I were playing,Â I would just hold the ball and shield it at the line. I will shield it in a way that the opponent would make a forceful contact and I would simply fall.
The referee must blow for a foul on me. I will simply pass the ball to a colleague and ask him to pass back to me and I will shield it again and time is going. I wonder why they didnâ€™t show experience. The few experienced onesÂ Â did not direct affairs. I am just disappointed. The baby they said we should go and welcome is dead. It will be tough, very tough for us to go to the World Cup but in football anything can happen. Letâ€™s do our bit and leave everything to God.â€
Derragi scored on that move. Vincent Enyeama made it easier by remaining on his goalline instead of rushing out. Yobo and Adeleye saw the player running towards the goal.Â None of them rushed to disturb him. It is the normal thing to do when any of your full backs overlap especially when the right or left midfielder, as the case may be, has not also fallen back to defend. From Taiye Taiwo to all the defenders including goal keeper, the major blame of the equaliser should be heaved on them but the entire team should also share in it by not killing the game as Okocha suggested after their 2_1 lead.
The way they played which lacked a sound tactical discipline is a big minus for the coaches. Their marking was poor, they allowed the opponenets space and the attack was poor. Osaze Odewenge fought hard and scored a goal but turned his usual self by always holdingÂ on to the ball when he needed to pass out. He does so every time and it is a surprise that the coaches have not corrected him.Â In a game that we needed to be very offensive, fielding two defensive midfielders in Mikel Obi and Seyi Olofinjana .