Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Super Eagles team list and implications for the Nations Cup



Coach Keshi's 23-man list was finally made public and there were no last minute surprises. The door remained firmly shut on the likes of Obafemi Martins, Osaze Odemwingie, Obinna Nsofor and Lukman Haruna; a rude indication that Nigeria will not be fielding her best possible team at the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa.
A few hours after this disclosure, the Super Eagles managed a goalless draw with Cape Verde's Blue Sharks but beat Dutch side Sparta Rotterdam a few days later by a lone goal in very shaky and unconvincing performances that have greatly deflated the hype and expectations that usually precede "Africa's World Cup" in Nigeria.

The Cape Verde game was simply an exhibition of Nigeria's overall problem - starving in the midst of plenty due to the irrationality and ineptitude of those at the helm - as a disjointed bunch was paraded, when better options abound. Yes, there were a few bright spots in Kenneth Omeruo, John Mikel Obi and to an extent, Nosa Igiebor, but their contribution was thinned by the insipidity of a larger majority.

The victory over Rotterdam was reported as "an improved attacking performance", but a solitary goal underlines the persistence of the acute “poor-goals-return syndrome" in a team that has consistently struggled to score goals before and after it fluked a 6 - 1 victory over Liberia in the last qualifying match.

The cause: an unnecessary and lengthy "rebuilding" and "experimentation" period which has realistically failed to yield any dividends, plus a deliberate foolhardy choice of mediocre players.
The result: an incoherent unit still undergoing trial-and-error, clearly devoid of an idea of which players to start in what formation, a week to a major competition.

If by a week to the tournament, a coach (not known to be the most tactically adept) is still juggling players instead of perfecting strategies (not like there has been any all this while), it is difficult to see how the Eagles will suddenly stumble on winning formations which should have been the basis for the selection of players in the first place. If it was so difficult against the likes of Rwanda and Liberia during the qualifiers, I do not see it getting any easier during the competition proper.

Any reasonable impact at the Nations Cup will come from the players infusing over 100% individual effort, plus a very massive stroke of luck. I sincerely hope this turns out to be the case - just for the sake of the country and its football followership - but I doubt seriously.

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