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Siasia Begins Second Missionary Journey

Posted: Mar 25, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Peter Edema, Lagos
Today in Kaduna, Samson Siasia- not the biblical Samson who did not get a second chance of retracing his footsteps- will have another opportunity of redeeming his image when he leads Super Eagles against Pharaohs of Egypt in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match.
Sunday Oliseh’s unexpected resignation as Super Eagles Head Coach last February provided Siasia the opportunity of redeeming his image, as he was beckoned to clean the Augean Stables by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Will Nigerians begin to shout hosanna or crucify him again? Will Samson deliver? Siasia has to deliver because anything short of victory means Nigeria chances of qualifying for the Nations Cup will be difficult if not impossible. Having failed to qualify for the last edition of the tournament, anything short of victory in Kaduna and a draw in four days time in Alexandria, Egypt, means Super Eagles will not be part of the most glamorous football event in the continent.
The stakes are even made higher because of the pressure on both coaches. Hector Cuper, Egypt coach, knows that his stay in Egypt will be cut short if, by Tuesday night, his team secures less than three points from the two matches against Nigeria. Failure to qualify means that Egypt will miss out of the tournament for a fourth consecutive time. Siasia knows that his chances of being replaced will be made easier should he fail to qualify the team for the Nations Cup.
And the first step towards ensuring a united front against Egypt was taken on Thursday when John Mikel Obi was named captain of the team. Mikel, who was Assistant to Vincent Enyeama, was overlooked by Oliseh, who gave the band to Ahmed Musa. Musa announced at a media briefing on Thursday that he was stepping down on the premise of righting the wrong previously done.
The change in guards presupposes that Siasia will be presenting a united team against Egypt. The coach has expressed the confidence that Egypt does not possess the requisite credential to derail Super Eagles. This is easier said. Today, he has to put all this into action.
As a coach who is attack minded, for he was an outright striker in his playing day,will he employ a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 style as he did with the U-23 side that won the CAF U-23 nations Cup in Senegal last September? Whatever style he employs will be a function of the materials at his disposal. This will determine who will start the match. Odion Ighalo is likely to start, but this player most often at Watford plays with a partner upfront. What role will Mikel play? Will he be restricted to his defensive role he is used to at Chelsea or will be deployed to the attacking role, a role that blossom him to stardom? Most probably with Alex Iwobi likely to start, the midfield attacking role will be given to him, with Mikel likely consigned to defensive midfield role.
Will the Pharaohs be content to play on the counter? Cuper likes to defend solidly and counter attack. He is also adept at set pieces. Super Eagles must devise a way of breaking down Egypt’s resilient backline.
However, the Argentine is known for his unpredictability. How he sets up his team in the early part of the match will to a great extent determine Eagles reaction or will be the other way round? Will he seek an early goal so as to destabilise Eagles’ or will he be playing for a draw?