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Nigeria, Tanzania Fall-out: Still A Mountain To Climb For Eagles

Posted: Sep 7, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Akhilomen Lagos

Regardless of the  goalless draw recorded in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations match between Taifa Stars and Super Eagles in Dar es Salaam, where the Nigerian side had a fair share of possession, inaccuracy in front of goal and poor cohesion, there is still some element of hope for the team to improve with time.

Thomas Ulimwengu of Tanzania, tackling Kenneth Omeruo for the ball during their recent 2015 AFCON qualifier

Thomas Ulimwengu of Tanzania, tackling Kenneth Omeruo for the ball during their recent 2015 AFCON qualifier

The result further put the 2013 Africa champions far behind Pharaohs of Egypt which defeated Chad (Pharaohs) to move two points ahead of Nigeria, however, it is not yet a conclusion that the Eagles won’t be able to qualify for the bi-annual tournament in Gabon.

It will be too early to start criticising the technical crew considering the fact that majority of the players is just playing together for the first time, albeit been together in training for three days before the match.

Like the adage that says a building is not erected in one day, a formidable team is not built in a twinkle of an eye no matter the man in charge, be it an expatriate or home grown coach.

In the process of raising a formidable team, mistakes are made. The ability to identify such mistakes in order to make drastic correction is what makes a good manager.

Having said this, the Super Eagles went, saw but could not conquer a Tanzanian side that approached the match with the mindset of picking all three points going by its all-attacking style of play.

Oliseh still has lots of mountains to climb if he must succeed with the current mix of players in the Eagles because in Nigeria, what matters most is results and not how well the team plays.

With pressure on the team, the former Juventus and Borussia Dortmund star must start working out the possible ways of getting the team gel quickly before the head falls from the neck.

On paper, it would have been easier to award the Super Eagles the maximum points based on the array of stars on parade but the hosts also came to the party, showing flashes of a stable, cohesive and balance team; but for the presence of goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme, who made some heroic saves, Nigeria might have lost the match.

According to Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh, the team is a work in progress, even as he promised to correct all the lapses before Nigeria’s next match against Egypt.

“We only had two days to train together and I am impressed with the way we played even though the striking was blunt but I am optimistic we will work on those mistakes step by step.

“Our midfield was not covered properly; that was why I decided to do some early changes but I don’t want to point at any players,” Oliseh said.

“I am very happy with Ikeme’s performance; he was brilliant and he kept the Tanzanian strikers at bay, it was a very important debut for him and thankfully for us he was A1.”

Agreeing with Oliseh, former Eagles midfielder, Moses Kpakor, is of the opinion that the team would improve despite playing a goalless draw with Tanzania on Saturday, saying Eagles recorded a fair result.

“There are a lot of things happening in world football and one of them is that there are no more minnows in the game. Gone are the days when you just stroll to countries like Tanzania and pick points. It doesn’t happen again. The gap has closed now,” Kpakor said.

“We might have better players but they were always going to buoyed by their home fans. I think a draw is a fair result. We have to be patient with him (Oliseh), as he tries to build a good squad for Nigeria. It won’t be pretty all the time. It’s good they were able to grind a result on the road.

“The team will get better with time. We need to support him so that he can get it right. The result isn’t as bad as people have made it out to be. I think the result is okay.”

In all, the team has been able to prove that names don’t play football as far as Africa football is concern. There were so many loopholes in the Super Eagles that you may almost tag them, a disjoint bunch of talent. Except for a few of the players such as Ikeme and Emmanuel Emenike who made their presence felt in the team, the rest were just passengers with no direct impact on the team.

Prior to the match, Nigerians were pondering and wandering if the newly invited Wolverhampton Wanderers shot-stopper, Ikeme, could fit into the shoes of captain, Vincent Enyeama, who had earlier withdrawn from the match due to the death of his mother.

But he proved everybody wrong with some classy and point blank saves, which ordinarily could have skipped through some goalkeepers.

The defence that consisted of Solomon Kwambe, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong and Christian Madu failed to show any sort of understanding despite playing together for the second time as the rear men gave Tanzania strikers chances to have a fun-filled day.

Omeruo was not at his best, as he severally gave away balls to the hosts rather than covering properly for the team.

Madu, who was known for launching attack from the left side, could hardly compete with the pace and physical disposition of Tanzanian players, who took total charge of that position and made it a world of their own.

However, the midfield was the most porous department in Eagles, as the likes Izunna Uzochukwu, Obiorah Nwankwo, Haruna Lukmon and Moses Simon couldn’t dictate the pace of the game, showing lack of ideals to possess the centre. None of the players was able to complement the efforts of the attackers whenever the ball was in their possession.

Most culpable was Haruna, who didn’t do his Super Eagles future any good with a lackadaisical performance. He was sluggish in possession and failed to track the Tanzanian midfielders who ran Nigeria out of the park in that department. It was a similar story with Obiorah Nwankwo, who never played the role of a defensive midfielder properly and was just a shadow of himself throughout the entire 90 minutes.

Also, Emenike, known for his bullying nature on defenders, couldn’t just muscle his way to give Nigeria the three points. His work was made more difficult with inadequate supply of passes from the midfield.

Captain of the day, Ahmed Musa, was also a shadow of himself, failing to disturb the Tanzanians with his pace and trickery on the flank.

Having managed just a shot on goal in the second half which went wide, it was just a below performance from the CSKA Moscow of Russia winger.

Former Eagles goalkeeper, Idah Peterside, said Nigeria performed poorly in Saturday’s African Cup of Nations qualifier in Dar es Salaam.

“Just looks like Oliseh went about and rented players from everywhere because if those players are truly the best from Nigeria, then our football is in serious trouble.

“It’s obvious that when a goalkeeper is Man of the Match, it means the team played badly,” Peterside wrote on his twitter handle.

It will be ideal for the Nigeria Football Federation to aid Oliseh by organising grade A international friendly matches that will help to bond and harness the players properly before any major engagement. This will give the technical crew an opportunity to organise the entire team in order to move the nation’s football forward.