A test game notwithstanding, but an unconvincing performance by the Super Eagles who could not make their numerical advantage for over an hour count against a very tactical, motivated and organized Mexican side who even threatened to take the game.
Despite conceding first, the Nigerians had a good first half due to the psychological disadvantage the Mexicans suffered early on from a red card and an equalizing penalty, further worsened by the deflected second goal.
However, the Mexicans recovered to totally dominate the second half, but only after Coach Stephen Keshi had taken off the more experienced players for a handful of misfits.
An inspiring defensive display, especially by Godfrey Oboabona and Kenneth Omeruo was tainted by the wing-backs who got caught out of position a countless times due to their forays forward, with Efe Ambrose the worst culprit. The midfield started strongly, but the lapses therein remained quite conspicuous. Its continued lack of creative incision and the inability to retain possession was only worsened when it withered defensively (when the Mexicans threw everything into the attack). The attack was blunt, quite understandably, because the coach chose to experiment with the wrong hands.
Coach Keshi’s poor choice and poor utilization of players continues to be glaring. Of the old stock, Efe Ambrose is not a right-back; Sunday Mba is not a creative midfielder; and Brown Ideye is a pointman, not a winger.
Of the new entrants, John Ogu was commendable, but shows tendencies of complacency. Michael Babatunde is nothing close to Super Eagles’ quality, while Joseph Akpala is a proven goal-scorer, but not in the Super Eagles set-up. Nnamdi Oduamadi, on the contrary, has vindicated my calls for his inclusion with his all-round awareness, skill and vision. There are several more like him whom Keshi needs to invite.
Going forward, the team must be warned against showmanship when in the lead. It is obvious that the team struggles against aggressive, more physically fit and mobile teams. We are assured of these in quantum from the Kenyans. It is also obvious that teams which are more cohesive and tactically superior are like kryptonite to the Eagles. Only highly fit, confident, skillful and experienced players will successfully execute the Super Eagles’ hectic summer itinerary.
Many of these players exist, but outside Coach Stephen Keshi’s shortlist.