By Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor
The Super Eagles are just 90 minutes away from booking another trip to the World Cup – their fifth if they succeed against Ethiopia on Saturday in Calabar.
But it has not always been this ‘easy’ – from the first qualification in 1993 in Algiers and that 1-1 draw to 2009, when the Eagles had to come from a goal down to Kenya in Nairobi to win 3-2. This campaign led by coach Stephen Keshi has almost been stress free but we could also say that we are enjoying the benefit of being African champions.
That we must prove again on Saturday as we try to put the Walya Antelopes to the sword. Brazil 2014, here we come!
But first Goal looks at five things the Super Eagles must do on Saturday in Calabar
|EAGLES DO NOT NEED TO CHASE A VICTORY, LET ETHIOPIA DO THAT
As Arsene Wenger said after Arsenal were defeated 2-1 at the Emirates by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League – “My team were not mature enough to know that they did not need to chase a victory.’ so the advice will be to the Super Eagles – you do not need a victory to get to Brazil.
The plain truth is that if the aggregate result after the match in Calabar on Saturday is still 2-1, then Nigeria are through.
So there is no need for any ego-fuelling all out attack on the Ethiopians – the Antelopes are the ones who should be chasing a victory and the Eagles can pick them off with counter-attacks.
|SCORE IN THE FIRST 15 MINUTES
The Ethiopians will most likely go all out from the beginning of the match to get a goal but that enthusiasm can be quickly deflated if the Super Eagles get the first goal, and get it in the first 15 minutes.
What it would then mean would be that the Walya Antelopes will need to score three goals to win the match and realistically, that would be a mirage.
So if the Eagles want to end the challenge quickly – they should just score first and in the first quarter of the match.
|EAGLES MUST NOT BE LETHARGIC
This cannot be preached enough – the Eagles must forget the score of the first leg and face this 90 minutes freshly.
Expectedly, the Ethiopians are coming to Nigeria believing that the task is still possible and a feeler from the first leg indicates that they will be giving more than the proverbial 100% in the hope that they can catch the Eagles in a soft spot so the advise to the players is to go into the tackles in the first minutes of the match very hard.
That will show the Antelopes that the Nigerian players are not horsing around and are ready to break a leg literally to confirm the ticket to Brazil. There must be no shying away from making tackles or letting go especially in the first 30 minutes.
|PLAY IDEYE WITH EMENIKE AGAIN
Emmanuel Emenike is back in good scoring groove both for club and country but he still needs the perfect foil to achieve his goals consistently for the national team.
Against Malawi, there were so many times when he seemed isolated upfront with Victor Moses, Nnamdi Oduamadi and Ahmed Musa far from him. It was also apparent in the first leg against Ethiopia and the Fenerbahce man had to come deep into midfield to pick the ball.
The Nations Cup where he and Brown Ideye played together showed an understanding and chemistry that should be allowed to fully develop. Ideye may not be scoring regularly but he allows Emenike the license to score.
|PLAY MIKEL IN THE NO.10 ROLE
Another moot point that should be noted was that in the first leg in Addis Ababa, the Super Eagles got their goals when the coach changed the formation, brought on Nosa Igiebor and pushed Mikel Obi up the pitch.
Then Ogenyi Onazi and Igiebor protected the defence and allowed Mikel to pick his passes. One of those led to Emenike being felled in the box.
Coach Stephen Keshi will be well advised to find another partner for Onazi in defensive position as Igiebor is out and push the Chelsea man near the attackers where his vision and passes would be key in unlocking a stubborn defence.Follow Babajide Alaka on