I’m worried by the Super Eagles’ last Friday goalless draw with the Black Stars of Ghana. It was a match Nigeria could win, which ended in a draw due to lack of ingenuity.
Ghana did not create so many chances neither did Nigeria despite the arrays of more quality players in the Super Eagles’ squad.
We urgently need a match winner in the likes of Austin Okocha who can convert dead balls to goals. This is because the Ghanaians will be coming to Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola Stadium in Abuja to hold down our players from moving with the ball.
This will create high number of free kicks and even penalty against the Black Stars but do we have a great player that can convert this kind of opportunity when it comes, NO.
I can’t remember when last the Super Eagles scored with free kick, perhaps in 2013 AFCON against Mali when Emmanuel Emenike’s shot beat the goalkeeper.
I counted the goal as a fluke because it never happened again. Unlike Okocha who was a specialist in converting such opportunity.
Last Friday, we lost three clear chances because our Eagles are average players without no ingenuity.
First was Joe Ayodele Aribo who ballooned a begging chance; followed by Moses Simon who shot into the body of Ghana goalkeeper and Frank Onyeka whose touch paralysed Ghana’s defence but his lack of experience made him to shoot straight to the defender.
A player like Nwankwo Kanu would only tip the ball over the goalkeeper or wait for a defender to fall him in the box for a penalty. We don’t have these class anymore.
My fear is about Tuesday when we will play the second leg. The players must be very careful so that the match does not end in penalty. We should not miss Qatar 2022. It is the Eagles that are now under pressure not the Black Stars who will be waiting for a counter to nail Nigeria on Tuesday.
Coach Austin Eguavoen will need to change some players who have found it difficult to impress after the last AFCON. It is obvious that Moses Simon has found it difficult to replicate his AFCON form. He can easily be marked out by any good coach. Kelechi Iheanacho’s has not been so super, possibly because he is not playing his natural role as a supporting striker.
Samuel Chukwueze is fading away and he may lose his first team shirt to Onyeka if care is not taken.
The coach should start with Frank Onyeka whose introduction brought life into the Eagles attack last Friday. For this second leg, let the coach also introduce Akinkunmi Amoo to play with Oghenekharo Etebo in the midfield.
We need those who can hold ball under pressure for Nigeria to control the game. Good luck Super Eagles.
KUNLE AWOSIYAN is a journalist based in Lagos