By Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor
The 6-1 win over Liberia on Saturday surprised many football fans and brought back some feel-good factor to others, so much so that some are saying that the Eagles can now go ahead and win their third Africa Cup of Nations title in South Africa next year.
Goal.com will not go that far but we will expound on five things the victory explained.
|EAGLES NEED A SUBSTANTIVE RIGHT FULL BACK|
Efe Ambrose will not get us there even though he managed to get by in the match against Liberia. Whatever Keshi sees in persisting with Godfrey Oboabuna in central defence is anyone’s guess but Ambrose is an accident waiting to happen at right-back.
Against Sekou Oliseh, he was found out on too many occasions and Calabar fans became apprehensive whenever the ball was played out to the Liberians’ left wing.
His proclivity as a central defender meant that the back four tried to squeeze the centre of the pitch leaving the wings especially the right wing bare for raids and if the Liberians were a more clinical side, the Eagles would have been made to pay.
With no suggestions on who could likely fill in – the coach may have to convert a midfielder to fill in so that defending and attacking roles can still be understood though we need to find one in the next 90 plus days before the Nations Cup kicks off.
|MIKEL IS STILL RELEVANT TO THE EAGLES
The Chelsea midfielder brought calmness to the team’s play and gave the attackers the freedom to attack though he did not do as much marking as Obiorah Nwankwo did. His pass in the first minute led to the foul on Ahmed Musa and subsequently the first goal. His scooped pass to Ikechukwu Uche for the fifth goal was simply world class and his penalty kick was dispatched with authority.
All in all, he showed that for holding the ball, getting his passes to feet and having the class at times to do the unpredictable makes him the top pick for one of the three midfield roles that Stephen Keshi is wont to use for the Super Eagles. Though it can definitely be better – what the match against Liberia clearly signified is he wants the Lampard role in the Nigerian team.
He wants the leeway to be able to attack the opponent from deep midfield and he needs someone behind him that will really do the dirty job. Well that can be managed with players like Obiorah, Joel Obi and new kid on the block, Ogenyi Onazi ready to use their youthfulness, energy and vibrancy in helping the team win back the ball.
|AHMED MUSA NEEDS TO GROW UP
Yes, the CSKA Moscow striker scored and was generally a nuisance to the defenders of the Lone Stars of Liberia – his decision making at crucial times still leaves a lot to be desired.
Against stronger teams, the Super Eagles will not be able to create as many scoring chances as they created against Liberia and that means when that half chance is created for him, he has to make the right decision.
Case in point was the goal created for him by Emmanuel Emenike. It was a delightful pass into the box for him to run unto and tap in. In that match that role was reserved on two occasions but Musa took the wrong decision of shooting when a simple pass into the box would have created a better scoring chance.
Maybe his conversion into a central striker for CSKA has made him more goals conscious but for the national team, at least for now – he has to be a goal creator more of the time than being the goal scorer.
|EAGLES NEED AN ALTERNATIVE TO 4-3-3
Yes, we scored early and created so many chances at the end of the day but there was a window of about 20 minutes before Ahmed Musa scored the second goal that the Eagles were anything but comfortable. The midfield was porous and there were too many misplaced passes as the pressure of holding on to the lead apparently got to the players.
If the Liberians had scored during this time, maybe things could have been tougher but that was weathered and Musa’s goal some minutes before the half time whistle gave the team the latitude to play with more freedom in the second half when the goals flood gates opened. But the coach could have reverted to a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2 to stabilise that wobbly period. The coaching must have a fall-back plan in case things go awry or shaky during the course of any match especially against stronger opponents next January in South Africa.
|CALABAR SHOULD BE THE HOME FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
There is no gain saying the fact that for the mean time, Calabar should be the home of the Eagles. There will now be a lot of states jostling to host the Eagles as the qualifiers for the World Cup in Brazil are to begin again but Calabar should be the only option for the team.
Let the Nigeria Football Federation not become avaricious and start hawking the venues all around the country. The major objective is to make sure that Nigeria is represented in Brazil in 2014, and we should not make the mistake that we made with choosing Kano on the way to not qualifying for the 2006 World Cup.