The chickens have come home to roost as Eagles and are poised to make an improbable run to the final and even lift the cup. After being largely outplayed by the Copper Bullets, the Eagles came through in the penalty shootout to set up an intriguing match with Ghana.
Ahhh. Mouthwatering. Like fufu and light soup with goat meat. Or is it eba and egusi with eagle? Naija, I keed. The clash is going to be so hot I can see the steam from both bowls. Erm, camps. Ghana’s undermanned squad should be psyched up to face off against an underperforming Super Eagles squad who nevertheless have big players who can at any opportunity turn a match.
In Ghana, you have a squad that is somewhat limited in its attacking options but a team that has a fighting spirit and is organized to defend a lead. They play with a chip on their shoulder, the possible result of having been written off by many of their own. Like rejected children who’ve been embraced under one roof by a common family, they have a steely edge. They want respect. You know, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Just a little bit. The players play for each other, fight for each other and are devoted to the person whose roof they are under (Coach Rajevac). They have also displayed grit, discipline, a strict adherence to the coach’s instructions and a mental toughness you usually associate with battle tested teams.
In Nigeria, you have players whose reputation precedes them like Yakubu Ayigbeni that seem committed but look like they haven’t played much football in the run up to the tournament and are using the tournament to regain their skills. You also have Osaze Odemwingie who is clearly Nigeria’s best player and whose individual brilliance can turn a match at a moment’s notice. Otherwise, you have a nation of 150 million people who regardless of how terrible their team look can’t seem to stop supporting them. It’s like the train wreck. You know you won’t like what you’ll see but you can’t help but watch. Either way, expect the prospect of a rivalry game to bring out the best in the Nigerians, the display we have all been holding our breath to see.
As for tactics, I will have to think about it a bit longer but my preliminary thoughts are that using the same strategy we used in our previous match against Angola against the Nigerians will be giving them too much credit. I think there’ll be opportunities to attack Nigeria and take advantage of the likes of the ‘splendid’ Etuhu and also the left back. As to whether that should be in a 4-4-2 as opposed to a 4-3-3 is the question. In a 4-3-3 you would be sacrificing a striker like Amoah but I think that plays into the hands of the rugged Shittu. Hmmm, all sorts of permutations.
Meanwhile the coach’s attempt at some Mossad-type espionage did not work.