BY ONOCHIE ANIBEZE, just back from Liberia
When Salmon Grimmes put the Lone Star  ahead in the 6th minute Liberians went wild in celebration.

They boasted so much about beating Eagles, banking largely on what they called “poor runs” of the Nigerians who could not qualify for the last Nations Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. That failure is now a reference point anytime Eagles are meeting teams Nigerians see as minnows.

Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi with Home Based Super Eagles at a News Conference at the Eagles’ Camp in Abuja

Rwanda and Namibia cited it and said it gave them confidence against the Eagles. The media in Liberia informed the Lone Star that “if Angola could stop Nigeria from going to the 2006 World Cup and Guinea stopped them from going to the last Nations Cup, Liberia could also stop them from the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa.”

And Salmon’s goal put them in good stead. But it was momentary. Nosa Igiebor equalised for Nigeria in the 15th minute and Ike Uche’s penalty after Victor Moses was fouled gave Nigeria a 2-1 lead. Liberians looked so vulnerable that Eagles appeared to take them for granted. They had chances to increase the lead. Ike Uche tapped the ball high after beating the keeper.

Victor Moses had a tough game but he made things difficult for himself. He ran with the ball more than it was necessary and at the end wasted moves. Emmanuel Emenike was a worse offender. He was always running into crowd of players and being dispossessed. Emenike would not pass the ball. He blew chances too. Emenike was awful in the 2-2 draw with Guinea that denied Nigeria a Nations Cup ticket.

He was disappointing against Sierra-Leone and with what he played against Liberia he must be among the players asking for a time out from the team. He deserves one. Vincent Enyeama has already gotten one.

Nwankwo Obiora would always turn with the ball when it would pay more to go forward and mount pressure on opponents. Ike Uche would not fall back to help in marking. He also likes running with the ball when it may not be necessary.

Stephen Keshi left the pitch, noting some of these problems and knowing that he still has a lot of work to do. He admitted this but said “the moment I correct these things we shall have a solid team.” He missed Gabriel Reuben in the defensive midfield and because Ike Uche was not falling back to help a lot fell on Nosa Igiebor who had a good game.

“The result was not a bad one although we threw away our victory. I would not complain if opponents work for their goals. But it pains when you have the chance to win and through your own carelessness you blow it. That’s why I’m not happy with the way it ended.

But 2-2 away is not a bad result but we can be better,” Keshi said. He was said to have blasted the players for lacking fighting spirit.

 

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.