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Semi final: Amodu promises to plug ‘loopholes’ in Eagles

By Patrick Omorodion
Under-pressure Super Eagles chief coach, Shaibu Amodu may have finally balked at the deluge of criticisms which has trailed his technical capabilities in handling the team from Nigerians as he announced that there will be changes in the squad that will battle Ghana in today’s semi final clash in Luanda, Angola.

Chinedu Obasi of Nigeria (R) and Tico-Tico Captain of Mozambique’s National football team (L) fight for the ball during their group stage match at the African Cup of Nations CAN2010 at the Tundavala stadium in Lubango, Angola on January 20, 2010.

As the zero hour for the crucial tie against rival West Africa neighbours approached, the Edo-born gaffer who has grown more grey hairs since he succeeded Berti Vogts on the hot seat, told fifa.com that the changes are being necessitated by “some areas of concern” which must be worked on.

“We will look at making changes to our squad against Ghana,” he said, adding, “The most important thing for us now is that we have seen some of the areas of concern, and now we have to work on them. As I said, maybe it will be worth getting some fresh legs from the bench and reinforcing our squad.”

Ironically, Amodu who said he did not deem any home-based player or member of the Flying Eagles fit for the Eagles, poured encomiums on the Ghanaian U-20 players in the Black Stars team he will be facing today, describing them as hungry for more successes.

“We are playing one of the top teams in Africa (Ghana’s Black Stars), and that is a huge task. They have some exciting players, most of whom played at the U-20 World Cup, and those players are still hungry to achieve more.

“But if you look at our side, we also have some youngsters who have gained experience and are now equal to the task. I don’t want to dwell on what happened against Zambia. That is history now. We have to face tomorrow, and that means we have to work a bit harder today.”

“(Against Zambia) we did not play too well, but it was a good experience for the team,” said Amodu who added that  “We are not at our peak right now, but we’re improving all the time and in five months, we will be much better,” in apparent reference to the World Cup in June where he would face Argentina, Greece and South Korea.

At the 26th edition of the Nations Cup which Ghana hosted in 2008, the Eagles under Vogts met Ghana in the quarter-final and fell 1-2 after taking the lead. Two years on, the setting is the semi final and revenge is on the lips of Amodu and his wards even though he says it would not be a piece of cake.

The last time the Eagles reached the Nations Cup final was in 2000 when Nigeria, co-incidentally co-hosted that year’s event with Ghana, but lost via a controversial penalty shoot-out to Cameroon at the National Stadium in Lagos.

In 2002 with Amodu in charge, they lost in the semi finals to Senegal, in 2004, Tunisia was their nemesis also at the same stage, while a Didier Drogba’s lone strike ended their dream in the semi final too at the 2006 Nations Cup in Egypt.


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