Amodu Shuaibu needs a change now more than ever before.He leads a team of Green Eagles to Kenya this weekend hoping to win, and praying that Tunisia drop a point for Nigeria to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
From the start of their qualifying till date, the Eagles under Amodu have lacked aggression and marking abilities. They give a lot of space to their opponents. Tunisia capitalized on this to earn a 2_2 draw in Abuja. Even Mozambique had enough space to pass the ball around and express themselves in Abuja. Kenya enjoyed the same freedom of space but lacked a finisher to change their story when they visited Abuja. They controlled the midfield but Nigeria offered more in striking and netted three goals.
That was why Nigerians still expressed dissatisfaction after the victory. Eagles play Kenya at Kesarani Stadium where two factors will work against them _ the high altitude weather and Kenya’s hunger to be at the Nations Cup in Angola since they have lost out in the World Cup race. Going by what Eagles played against Mozambique and what Nigerians saw of Kenya in Abuja, the Eagles lack the power game to muscle Kenya today. They need a change of approach to make hay this weekend.
Are they ready to play the game of their lives? Are they ready to be rugged? To fight and play with passion?Â But for the midfield game of Kenya where they play short passes, it might not have been necessary to expect or recommend power game for the Eagles. And because of the weather they need also to apply their brains. It is not only about power game.
They need physical attributes to overwhelm Kenya’s touches on the ball and they also need brilliance to survive the weather especially if they gain lead. Tactics will determine a lot, not only the individual output of the players.Â Amodu’s men have to mark in a way that Kenya’s would not have space to play their game. Amodu needs to work this out with the players. They also have to play intelligently in order to conserve energy that will surely be sapped by their runs and the weather.
If Amodu doesn’t do something about the marking approach of the Eagles they may lose the match in Nairobi and even if Mozambique beat Tunisia, the status quo will remain. Tunisia are two points ahead of Nigeria. Mozambique have a tradition of playing well at home. That is the only hope Nigerians have.Â Ivory Coast,Â with all their stars,Â could not beat them at the early stage of the qualifying series.
Against Eagles, they were resilient and scored two disallowed goals. Eagles struggled to get a draw on a day Tunisia beat Kenya in Nairobi.They have not given up leadership of the group since then. Words came from Mozambique during the week that they would do everything to beat Tunisia and that Eagles should concentrate on their own assignment in Kenya. The need for Mozambique to clarify issues arose after Nigeria mounted pressure to find out if there were undercurrents that might sway victory easily to Tunisia. Nigeria did not qualify for the last World Cup in Germany and this weekend, they will depend on the following to earn them a World Cup ticket, Mozambique permitting: