Nigeria’s U-17 team go into the final of the 2013 Fifa U-17 World Cup final as firm favourites but they must be cautious
By Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor
The hardest thing for Coach Garba Manu and his technical team will be how to motivate his players to see the final as another very important assignment and not as a crowning ceremony and that is because the Eaglets thrashed their final opponents, Mexico, 6-1 in their opening match.
So Goal looks at five things that the Eaglets need to do to make sure that all their skill and enterprise gets the final prize.
|GET THE BALL MORE TO KELECHI IHEANACHO IN CENTRAL MIDFIELD
Iheanacho has not only been a scorer of goals – five at the last match, but he has also been a veritable supplier of assists – seven at the last count. The way he has set up Taiwo Awoniyi for his last three goals showed the vision that he possesses in abundance.
His pass to set up Awoniyi for the first goal against Uruguay was pinpoint and was reminiscent of Arsenal star Mesut Ozil, while the scoop pass for the first goal against Sweden was simply sublime.
But it has to be said that he drifts out of games when the ball is not supplied to him just behind the main striker. Abdulahi Alfa and Akinjide Dairo (if he is restored to the starting 11), need to look up more and give him the ball so he can continue setting up the strikers. The key for the Eaglets is to get the ball to him quickly so that he can work his magic. And if he chooses not to pass, he has a great left foot that can deliver the goals needed.
|TRY NOT TO CONCEDE FREE KICKS AROUND THE BOX
Mexico have shown after that calamitous 6-1 capitulation to Nigeria in the first match that they are a very technical side who put a lot of work into their set pieces.
The first two goals they scored against Argentina in the semi final showed that proficiency. So the Eaglets must do well to limit their fouls to the centre of the pitch where set pieces can least hurt them.
|OKON MUST STAY TIGHT WITH IVAN OCHOA
Ivan Ochoa has scored four goals in his last three matches and so can be classified as the danger man for the junior El Tri. Not possessing great skill or speed, Ochoa has mastered the art of losing his markers in tight places.
And he always appears at the far post to gobble up any knock downs from his teammates or from the opponent, so the Eaglets’ left-back Samuel Okon, who has been one of the best Nigerian players at this championship, must be constantly tuned in for the runs of this elusive player.
The best thing to do is make sure he is picked up as soon as he gets near the Nigerian box and man-marked until all danger is cleared.
|MOHAMMED SHOULD BE CAUTIOUS IN BOMBING FORWARD
The captain has already scored twice in this championship and has a great penchant for bombing forward from his new role as right back.
And Mexico have shown that they are a good counter attacking side and will use any spaces left by inordinate forays forward by Mohammed.
Therefore Coach Manu Garba needs to instill in Mohammed the discipline he shows as a defensive midfielder – go forward when you are almost 100% sure that you have a backup in case the forward move is punctured.
|CAUTION AKINJIDE DAIRO ON HOLDING THE BALL TOO MUCH
If he plays, the coaches need to tell Akinjide Dairo, who has been a constant fixture of the Golden Eaglets midfield until he was shown a second yellow card against Uruguay, which made him miss the semifinal win over Sweden.
In the 3-3 draw with Sweden in the group stage, he was caught dawdling on the ball on more than one occasion. The Mexicans will be looking to pinch the ball off any of the Nigerian midfielders to launch a quick counter.
So all of them but most importantly Dairo, because he has the most touches on the ball, must be constantly aware of what is around them. One touch control and pass into space will be the neatest solution.Follow Babajide Alaka on