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The national team players will face a stiff test from the Ethiopians on Sunday so they must be prepared both physically and mentally

ANALYSIS
By Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor


Sunday, October 13 in Addis Ababa, African champions Nigeria will need to prove all over again that they are worthy of being the best team on the continent when they confront a vastly improved Ethiopian team, who are dreaming of making it to Brazil 2014.

But like the saying goes - form is temporary and class is permanent. The Super Eagles have to show class against the Walia Antelopes as Goal looks at five things the team should do to get a positive result out of the rarified air of Addis Ababa.

PLAY AT A SLOWER TEMPO AND AND FORCE THE ANTELOPES TO CHASE THE BALL

The architect of the Super Eagles’ play in Addis Ababa must be Mikel Obi, who is able to keep the ball and at the same time go past players at a canter. We can also be sure that he will be protected by the referee being a widely known player who has graced the biggest stages. Almost every foul on him will be called so he needs to understand that the Eagles cannot afford to go at ‘100 miles/hour’ in the Oxygen-deficient atmosphere.

The pitch is also not the best so the team should be prepared for uneven ball bounces all over the pitch and based on what they showed against Malawi – patience will be a key trait in Addis Ababa.
GO TO GROUND AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY AND TAKE TIME OVER SET PIECES

At every opportunity when play breaks down, the player injured or brought down must spend as much time as possible recovering on the pitch but forestall the stretcher to be called for. We should take a leaf out of the book of the North Africans. Kill the tempo, silence the crowd and the battle would have been half won.

This will ensure that the Walya Antelopes do not build up a head of steam. The Eagles must ensure that the game does not get frantic and at every opportunity, the team must play triangles all over the pitch.

THE TEAM MUST USE HIGH PRESS

I will assume that if the Eagles are able to play their game, they will beat the Ethiopians on Sunday but that is an assumption. The real thing is that the Walya Antelopes will have more of the ball and will do a lot of running, especially running the channels behind the two central defenders.

So if the Super Eagles will score in this encounter – it will either be through counter attacks in short bursts and that will be more effective if the ball can be won in the Ethiopian territory which will mean the transition into a scoring or shooting position will be quicker and the effect on the attacking players will be less.

So the Eagles knowing that the Antelopes will not use the long ball tactics must endeavour to press them in their own area which will lead to some mistakes as it has been ingrained in them to do short passes.
THE DEFENDERS HAVE TO MARK AND NOT TRY TO WIN AERIAL BALLS

The bounce of the ball will be different and will also have a different trajectory in the thinner atmosphere of Addis Ababa. And because the Super Eagles arrived on Saturday morning, they have a little over 30 hours to get conditioned – not acclimatised for the first leg on Sunday.

So they need to realise that the ball is going to bounce higher and lofted balls are going to cover more distance.  So for the defenders especially, calculations on going for headers have to be at a premium. It will always be better to mark the man to whom the ball has been lofted instead of trying to win the ball – any mistake and the attacker will be gone.
TAKE DIAMOX IN ETHIOPIA AND FLUID AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY

There are not so many things that solutions have not been found to. And one way of combating altitude sickness is by taking Diamox. Diamox (Acetazolamide) allows you to breathe faster so that you metabolize more oxygen, thereby minimizing the symptoms caused by poor oxygenation.

Diamos helps very well at night when respiratory drive is decreased. Since it takes a while for Diamox to have an effect, it is advisable to start taking it 24 hours before you go to altitude and continue for at least five days at higher altitude.

One of the good things about playing in high altitude is the fact that the players will need fluid intake to replace what is lost and the Nigerians must use every opportunity to take in fluid. The muscles must continuously be lubricated.

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