It never rains, but it pours for Nigeria

It never rains but it pours for Nigeria from the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) leadership debacle to the unimpressive performance in the field of play. Nigeria is facing serious football crisis which will erode all the good work achieved in the African Cup of Nations 2013 in South Africa. This is a right time for Bafana Bafana to register its first competitive win against the depressed and dejected Super Eagles.

The boardroom calamity situation is very tense in Nigeria. According to FIFA, they might face yet another ban and the possibility of expulsion from the Africa Cup of Nations if they continue to uphold the results of disputed elections last week. FIFA warned them that they could be stopped from playing their scheduled Nations Cup qualifier in South Africa this Wednesday which would effectively see them out of the competition and unable to defend the title they won in 2013.

FIFA confirmed that Nigeria’s 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Bafana will go ahead as NFF general secretary Musa Amadu returned to office to replace Chris Giwa, who was illegal elected to the post.

The NFA hasn’t yet resolved the contractual issues with the beleaguered coach Stepheni Keshi. Keshi can’t motivate his players whilst his future is still unresolved by the NFA. Sports Minister Tammy Danagogo and coach Keshi have only reached a gentleman agreement to coach the team for the upcoming two fixtures against Congo and Bafana Bafana.

In the field of play, Nigeria suffered unprecedented and unexpected first defeat against tactical organised Congo in Calabar City, U. J. Esuene Stadium. The coach Keshi should shoulder the tactical blame for the defeat after started the game with unimpressive striking force. The “Big Boss” started with ineffective Uche Nwofor and Nnamdi Oduamadi instead of Emmanuel Emenike and Sone Aluko. Nwofor and Nnandi never troubled the well-structured and stubborn defence of Congo.

The 4-3-3 tactical system deployed by Keshi was ineffective as the midfield of John Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi and Ramon Azeez lacked creativity going forward and cohesion when under siege against Congo.  They lost shape easily in the middle of the park and were too slow to recover and winning second ball due to this ineffective tactical system. The coach Keshi’s subjective team selection leaving out quality players such as Ikechukwu Uche, Haruna Lukman, Peter Odemwingie, Ideye Brown and Victor Moses cost him a game.

Nigeria is currently beatable and not in good frame of mind to beat tactical organised Bafana under the guidance of the master tactician Shakes Mashaba. Bafana should utilise on the tactical blunders of Nigeria players in the middle of the park. They lack confidence and tactical discipline to trouble the well-oiled Bafana machine.

Nigeria’s defence of Elderson Echiejile, Efe Ambrose, Godfrey Oboabona and Kenneth Omeruo is too slow to stop the blistering pace of Tokelo Rantie and Sibusiso Vilakazi. Bafana will easily unlock Nigeria defence through the creative skills of midfielders but the team captain and goalkeeper Austin Ejide is the weakest link at the back. Ejide was vulnerable against Congo and might concede avalanches of goals against Bafana. Ejide lacks advanced goalkeeping techniques of the first team keeper Vincent Enyeama who will miss the Bafana fixture due to family engagements.

Super Eagles lacks creativity the engine room to create adequate of chances upfront. The midfield is too fixed with uncreative and skilful players. This is a time for Bafana to beat hopeless Nigerians. The success for Bafana is imminent against Super Eagles this Wednesday.

Nigeria will face Bafana as underdog. However, the defence of Mulomowandau Mathoho and Anele Ngcongca should be well organised to stop the danger man Emmanuel Emenike who brought in the sense of urgency in attack against Congo with his propelling offensive movements which failed to turn the table around.

By Owen Mundalamo

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