The Eagles are expected to win comfortably against the Oceania champions but it may not be as easy as envisaged
By Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor
As the Super Eagles prepare to start their 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup campaign against Tahiti - there will be the case of jetlag on the players having flown thousands of miles in the last 10 days and the issue of their gettibg to Belo Horizonte just hours before their opening match.
Goal looks at five things that the team has to do to get over the first hurdle that is Tahiti.
|SUPER EAGLES MUST START VERY FAST FROM THE BLOCKS
So the Eagles need to kill off the game in the first 45 minutes or else there could be repercussions in the second half. There is no way that the players will not start feeling the effects of their long travels: from Germany to Texas to Kenya to South Africa to Namibia to South Africa to Brazil and then to Belo Horizonte, in the second half. So they must have something to protect when the inevitable tiredness sets in. And if they try to be supermen, there will just be the case of players getting injured.
It may not be as easy as envisaged but if the Eagles continue to play as planned there is every surety that they will score the goals they need. So they should not just jettison their match plan if they do not score early.
|MUSA SHOULD START AS THE ARROW HEAD
Against Kenya, he proved very dangerous and eventually scored the lone goal and against Namibia, his passes in and around the Namibian box should have brought goals if not for the profligacy of Anthony Ujah.
And with 11 league goals last season, he should be entrusted with the striker’s berth against a Tahiti team that can be bowled over with his speed in attacking the central areas instead of leaving him as a support striker.
|MBA MUST BE ENCOURAGED TO RUN AT THE TAHITI DEFENDERS
Though Sunday Mba’s runs can be tiresome and irritating, against Tahiti, he must be encouraged to run at the defenders like he did against Cote d’Ivoire at the last Nations Cup. There is every probability that these runs will lead to free kicks or even penalties.
The runs will also create space for the strikers so as often as possible, he should be encouraged to pick the ball from deep midfield and run straight at the heart of the Tahitian defence.
|MIKEL MUST PLAY CLOSER TO THE ATTACKERS
As shown in the last two World Cup qualifying matches – the only creative player from midfield happens to be the unlikely Mikel Obi. Since we know this, then he must be pushed into the last third of the pitch where his influence can be better exerted against lesser opponents.
And as Mikel showed at the last Nations Cup, if he is given the licence and the time, he can pick a pass. So against Tahiti, from whom he will have the time and space to wreak havoc, he must play closer to the likes of Brown Ideye, Nnamdi Oduamadi and Ahmed Musa for the Eagles to get the desired result.
|KESHI MUST USE HIS BENCH VERY WELL
But if by the second half, they have not been able to breach the defence of Tahiti, the lowest ranked team at the Confederations Cup, they should take heart because in 2009, at the U-20 World Cup in Egypt, the Flying Eagles struggled to break down the Tahitian team over 90 minutes because they just thought they just had to show up and the Islanders would be beaten.
Against Namibia, many of us wondered why Anthony Ujah was not replaced in the second half with either of Ideye or Joseph Akpala. Even before Ogenyi Onazi got critically injured, he could have been replaced. In the last three matches the Eagles have played – from Mexico to Namibia, the use of substitutions has not helped the Nigerian team and this is something that has to be improved upon quickly because a team is as good as its bench.
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