The Super Eagles will put their 17-match unbeaten run to the test on Thursday as they tackle the South American champions in Salvador
By Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor
The first match against Tahiti has not elicited any confidence that the African champions will be able to hold their own against the South American champions on Thursday in Salvador as the Fifa Confederations Cup enters the sixth day.
Goal looks at five things the Eagles must accomplish to get a positive result.
|MIKEL MUST KEEP AN EYE ON SUAREZ AND CUT OFF THE SUPPLY LINE
We all know that the strength of Luis Suarez is primarily running at defenders and nutmegging them in tight spaces. Edinson Cavani will be the striker most advanced of the duo with the Liverpool man looking to pull the strings from the middle of the park so Mikel Obi while be trying to play-make from deep, he must always have his radar up so that he can track the Uruguayan danger man.
But the more positive setup will be for Mikel to cut off the supply to the front pairing. The more potent weapons are the suppliers and mostly they are the full backs of Maxi Perreira and Martín Cáceres. Mikel must always talk to his wide attackers to track the runs of the full-backs.
This is because no matter how dangerous Cavani and Suarez can be, they need the ball frequently to be dangerous. Against Spain, the two were starved of the ball and the only moment of brilliance from Suarez came from a set piece.
|LUGANO AND PERREIRA ARE WEAK LINKS IN THE DEFENCE
As good as the Celeste are going forward through the middle, their Achilles heel is the middle of the defence where the captain, Diego Lugano occupies. In the game against Spain, he resorted to brawny tactics to stop the runs of Roberto Soldado and he got booked in the process.
So the midfielders and attackers will be best advised to run at the 32-year old Malaga defender. His partner, Diego Godin can also be very irrational as he likes to win the ball off the defender by intercepting passes which means he can be lured into committing fouls.
Maxi Perreira who plays at right-back is a converted defensive midfielder so is not totally comfortable shielding attackers to the side – he wants to win the ball so Nnamdi Oduamadi and Ahmed Musa must make sure he never gets comfortable. He will also give away needless fouls.
|CONCENTRATION IS KEY AND PLAYERS MUST BE CLOSE TOGETHER
The only goal that Spain gave away to Uruguay was from a set piece and with Cavani as a target, the Eagles will do well to concede less corner kicks and set pieces from wide.
We also know that Vincent Enyeama is not too comfortable coming out to tackle crosses so the best header of the ball, Kenneth Omeruo must be told to attack all balls with the mind-set of an attacker.
Also the players must make sure that they are always close to each other so that the space with which the Uruguayans can play is drastically shortened. If mistakes are inevitably made, they can be quickly corrected.
|AMBROSE & ECHIEJILE MUST BE WARY OF RUNNERS
Elderson Echiejile and Efe Ambrose like to attack especially the left-back, Echiejile which in itself is a good thing for the team but against Ururuay who have good runners like Cristian Rodríguez and Nicolas Lodeiro-if he starts-are good with the ball at their feet.
So the full-backs must act as pseudo centre backs with the knowledge that if they are beaten, they're opponents will be face to face with Enyeama. Also Echiejile must be very wary of going ahead of his attacker because if the ball is lost, there will be two Nigerians that will be cut out of the defending strategy.
|THE EAGLES MUST BE RELAXED BUT AGGRESSIVE AND DETERMINED
As Ogenyi Onazi said on a radio programme on Wednesday, the players of the Super Eagles must play their natural game against Uruguay on Thursday.
The Suarez-led Uruguayans are human beings with two legs. They should also remember that no one gave them a chance against Cote d’Ivoire at the Nations Cup in January and that lifted them as they played their game, gave their opponents the respect but tackled and harried on the way to creating the biggest upset of that tournament.
They can do the same to Uruguay and in doing that qualify for the semi-final of the Confederations Cup. No one is saying it will be easy but the task will be easier if they display the right attitude, mental disposition and play to the best of their abilities but all that can only happen if they are free of fear.
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