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Beaten … not disgraced, by Paul Bassey



Argentina's Gabriel Heinze goal during the match : Reuters


For realist, those who looked at all the parameters, our preparation, quality of players and the perennial maladministration of the football ruling body, the Super Eagles of Nigeria were not expected to have any chance against Argentina on Saturday. 

Yes there are a lot of Nigerians who said we will beat Argentina, saying so from their hearts and not from their heads. Saturday, that wish nearly came good when despite an early goal from the most unlikely of sources, the Nigerians were not disgraced losing by that solitary header from former Man U defender Gabriel Heinze. 

Take a bow Vincent Enyeama, the Nigerian goalkeeper who deserved to be on the winning side on a day Messi tried all the tricks in his bag, yet was shut out by the experienced Nigerian goal tender. 

Let me not blame those defenders who allowed the Argentinians to slice through them like a hot knife through butter. I have always known that the defence was our weakest link. 

What about the midfield that completely surrendered to the Argentines? We seemed to be content just allowing them to play. Lagerback calls it zonal marking. I call it DANGEROUS. 

Gabriel Heinze's killer header .

Rather let me admit that football is a team game and the reason why goalkeepers were introduced anyway, was to enable them stop any slip by defenders. 

I may come out publicly to commend this team, but I can also say with due respect that the team is yet perfect, still evolving. Now, coach Lagerback is in a better position to rethink on his starting line up in real match situation. 

Could we have done better? Maybe, maybe not. The missed chances, especially Uche’s in the 82nd, the shot by Obafemi…….there is hope yet that this being our toughest match, we may yet come back to make hay. 

Incidentally that opportunity presents itself against a South Korean team that has taken a three point cushion from hapless Greece with two goals to boot. 

South Korea may decide to play safe and go for a draw against us. We are therefore condemned to win, and that means Obafemi Martins and Osaze Odemnwigie must start. I do not mind what formation that will translate to but coach Lagerback must put forward an all systems go, attacking tactic that will see us trying to at least get at par with the Asian champions, points wise. 

Greece has the unenviable history of not winning any match in the world Cup. I do not see them bettering that record here. I can therefore say for certain that Argentina will beat Greece and go clear at six points, enough to see them qualify. If therefore Nigeria beats South Korea, they can be assured of another three points against Greece, just as South Korea may not be able to dent Argentina. 

Mathematics….paper predictions…..but what can we do now that we are down? If the experts did say that we are likely to come out second best in the group, so be it. Let us not disappoint the world and the hundreds of Nigerians in South Africa who are ready to back us all the way. Let us effectively go for second place now that the first position seems to have slipped. 

Wait a minute. Should we play badly and win like we did in Angola. Or play well in South Africa and lose?


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