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The way I saw Eagles against Argentina

By Emeka Ezeugo
Many Nigerians will argue that our darling team     did exceptionally well. Those who watched the game with patriotism and emotion attached are probably not done with celebration and those who watched with enlightened eyes have their views poles apart from that of the ordinary people. Our so-called match-analysts on television stations nationwide are equally neophytes in the business of analysing a match.

•Enyeama receiving attention

There are five main moments in a football match that ordinary fans of the beautiful game and the novitiates who are paraded as football analysts in Nigeria may want to know about. .
These important moments are:

TRANSITION MOMENT – (when you lose the ball)
TRANSITION MOMENT – (when you retrieve the ball)

The match against Argentina is the most organized that I have seen our darling team in more than thirty months. The Argentines looked more comfortable on the ball, well-organized and sharper going up. Defensively, we looked quite unsure of our defensive/building structure.

It’s the builders that inspire the creative midfielders to create havoc in the opposing defense with insightful, jugular-stabbing passes. I declared Enyama the man of the match after the end of the first half. He was just outstanding and made the added difference in the outcome of the encounter. I had to include this remark because he was a rock in our defense and structurally, he made a significant contribution.

We did defend better, the best job that I have seen in our national team in recent times. It’s important to declare that they failed to defend as a unit when it mattered most and they were not functional at all while defending dead-balls. We also sat back when the Albicelestes were at their rampaging best instead of mounting our pressure line way ahead.

There wasn’t immediate pressure on the ball. The Argentines had time and space to operate effectively when they were building up and when they attacked. They only sparked a sense of urgency when they entered into our attacking third. We also lost a bit of structure when in our own half.

We had our fair share of possession without actually looking coherent and dangerous. We gave away the ball a few times in our own half. It is sacrilege in modern football and in Europe and South America where the game is played on a different stratosphere. Our game plan was not illustrated in our possession periods if we had one. It was not reflected at any time during our build-up and attacking moments.

TRANSITION MOMENTS – (when we lost the ball)
Was our reaction timely and appropriate when we lost the ball? Were we well-organized and what was the shape of the team like during these moments? Work it out for yourself. Study with how often we gave away the ball at crucial time. African teams are notorious with giving away the ball under no pressure. Did we exhibit this trait sometimes in the game? We gave away quite a few in our own half. We lost structure and looked less functional in that vulnerable state.
TRANSITION MOMENTS – (when we retrieve the ball)

We took longer time to exploit the spaces that the Argentines lost. There were a lot of lateral passes instead of insightful and penetrating ones and the required speed  to kill a team on counter-attack was lacking.

On these crucial moments in the game, we were caught napping severally. When you sleep on duty on a global stage like this, you get punished. Gabriel Heinze punished us once and mercurial Messi came close a few times too.


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