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What I saw in Nigeria’s Eagles against Tunisia’

By Emeka Ezeugo
I have omitted the word ‘Super’ because there has been nothing super about our National Team in about three years, way before Vogt’s era. It takes me five minutes to tell people around me what the game plan of the two technical crews facing each other in any game that I am watching. My assessment  was so on the money.

EAGLES HAD NO GAME PLAN.

Eagles
Eagles

After ninety minutes, I did not see their first line of defence, where it should start and where it was meant to intensify. Eagles were unable to make seven uninterrupted passes. The players looked so unfit and could hardly keep up with the Tunisians.

They were so flat on transition moments that I almost fell asleep. They forced several corner-kicks and wasted all because they were ignorant of the fact that in modern football, corner-kicks are goal-scoring opportunities. On restarts, we fell asleep and conceded the equaliser. We also failed to defend our 86th minute lead. Pathetic.

Below is a well-educated technical mind’s analysis of that encounter. I have chosen these words correctly because I expect those responsible for the downward slide of Nigerian football to brand me their personal and public enemy for declaring the truth.

I say things as they are and little minds don’t like it. Be warned. Please, don’t even try to place or pitch your futile and neophyte football knowledge against that of an enlightened gentleman. Just read, remain silent and learn. I know this game and I did not acquire the knowledge through the backdoor. I am not about to tutor or share my knowledge of the game through the backdoor either.
DEFENDING:

Eagles had no plans on how to defend, where to initiate and mount a defensive wall. They played like elementary school kids when they were defending. The Tunisians played like the ball-park belonged to them. They had all the time and space to operate. We never attempted to guzzle the space and time they had on the ball at any given time. We never attempted defending as a unit. We had fewer men behind every ball and never defended collectively. There were no leaders, the team lacked character and never-say-die attitude.

No player in the field came combat-ready and got down and dirty in ferreting the lose balls and the second balls. The team that I saw on Sunday is definitely not a World Cup material and did not show any desire to go to South Africa.

TRANSITION MOMENT – WHEN OUR OPPONENT LOST THE BALL:
We looked so unprepared during this moment. They seemed so ignorant of how important this moment was in deciding the outcome of a match. The runs were not there, they were so static and speed of thought were non-existent in our players with the ball during these moments. We never came alive or switched to rapid response mode. At no time did we commit  required number of men around the ball going forward, as such, we failed to threaten the Tunisians.

POSSESSION:
We looked pretty sluggish with no sense of purpose and urgency going forward. We did not do well in this part of the game. Incisive passes were not there yet we talked so much big game the day before the encounter. We lost a lot of balls under no pressure, that is sacrilegious in modern football and unpardonable. At no point in the game could we string up eight straight passes. It’s such a shame.

TRANSITION WHEN NIGERIA LOST POSSESSION:
We were never organised even when we were in possession and when we lost possession we lost structure and remained in such disarray that made Tunisia look so profligate in front of our 18 yard box. Our reaction was so slow and we went to play as though nothing was at stake. We never committed enough men behind the ball and Tunisia looked extremely dangerous during these moments. They should have increased the score line and defeated us comfortably.

RESTARTS:
Tunisians were effective on restarts and created numerous chances reminiscent of their counterattacks while we came so unprepared. Tunisia’s first  goal came off a restart. We had several corner-kicks without a single plan on how to convert one to a goal. Our players have yet to learn that corner-kicks are goal-scoring opportunities. This deficiency is glaring in all our national teams and clubs. We never plan to attack and defend well during these moments in a game.

COUNTER ATTACKS:

Tunisians were grossly effective and their game plan revolved around counterattacks. The crisp passes and the runs were well-timed.

SUMMARY/CRITICAL DEMISE FACTOR:
We came to a gunfight with machetes. We had no game plan and our field marshal and combatant soldiers were paper-tigers. We began our World Cup campaign with just qualification as our goal. Do we just want to be in South Africa as participants? If we had no plans to make a great impact in the competition, why bother about qualification? Things will get worse than 2008 Nations’ Cup.

That’s the plain truth and there’s nothing unpatriotic about it. Until we quit giving a real man’s job to an adolescent lad, Nigerian football will never realize her true potential. Process my analysis and brand me a doomsayer, your personal or public enemy number one. I give no ho
*Ezeugo was a member of the Eagles to the USA ‘94 World Cup


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