The Eagles have a playmaker in Mikel and the five things Nigeria learnt from the Confederations Cup

The national team definitely has a platform to build a more formidable team if we can learn from the mistakes made in Brazil
By Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor

The 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup must have taught us one or two lessons of which the most important is the fact that the Super Eagles as presently constituted is not the finished product.

We have players that need to be relieved, we have situations that need to be resolved and we have plans that need to be re-evaluated.

Goal looks at five things that the Eagles took away from Brazil.


At last the John Mikel Obi that Manchester United and Chelsea fought over in 2005 has resurfaced in Brazil. Maybe it was the smell of the sea and salt or the fact that he is about to be dispended by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, something clicked for Mikel in Brazil and we are praying to see more of the same going forward.

The midfielder showed with his passing and movement that he is capable of being the team’s playmaker either from deep or close to the attackers. Whether he will continue in like manner at his club is another thing and the question he must be asking himself now is if Chelsea will help him achieve his potential.

At 25-years-old and a new five year contract, staying at Stamford Bridge may not afford him the opportunity to again explore the newly found attacking fervour that showed forth in Brazil.


The Super Eagles were in the game against Spain for long periods, and were a constant menace to Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos but could not test Victor Valdes continually. The misses by Brown Ideye, Mohammed Gambo to state the two gilt-edged chances that were created showed that the Super Eagles if they want to remain super must find superb strikers.

And we are not talking about the return of Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses, but more players who will deputise adequately for the duo. And like former Liverpool coach, Gerrard Houllier said; “They play good football…but they need to score goals. If they can do that, it will be a great team.”


This is not an overall indictment on the local league because from the same league has come Godfrey Oboabona, who has stood like a rock in the Eagles defence and has played every minute of every game that the national team has played this year.

The point is there are better players in the league than the ones that are in the national team but we need to look closer and watch more matches. We know that Stephen Keshi cannot do this alone which is why the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation should afford the head coach of their expertise in scouting and scouring the league to get the best legs for the national teams.

We know that with over 700 players playing at the top tier of Nigerian football, there are still some gems to be unearthed – we need to look harder and without bias.

Before the commencement of the Nations Cup last January, I had my doubts concerning the capability of the Braga defender in discharging his talent for the national team but after that triumph in which he scored a wonderful goal in the semi-final against Mali, he has continued to improve in leaps and bounds.

Whatever Keshi has told him has worked for him as his value has definitely increased over the last five months. He is said to be wanted by VFB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga and if he goes, he should continue to improve his game and his temperament. Knowing that the coach has reposed so much confidence in one can make or kill you.

But in the case of the former Flying Eagles left-back, this has liberated him from being a shackled player to one who now radiates confidence when he is with or without the ball.


What the two defeats in Brazil showed us majorly was that we must keep hold of the ball better especially in advanced areas. This is then a call to our midfielders and strikers that passes to their feet or in their possession cannot be allowed to be lost anyhow.

The second goal conceded against Uruguay was as a direct loss of the ball by Ahmed Musa in the Uruguayan half while the third goal conceded to Spain showed us in advanced position losing out on the free kick and losing out on the defensive shape. Vincent Enyeama was also partly culpable in this regard.

The whole team must be aware of what to do and what not to do with the ball – it is more dangerous in modern football to lose the ball while attacking as more goals are scored on the counter attack.

Follow Babajide Alaka on