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Super Eagles: Before and after AFCON final

Super Eagles of Nigeria can go all the way to win AFCON for the fourth time, having survived the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.

For me, the South Africa have paraded the most compact team in this tournament and deserved to be in the final. Some will say Senegal.

The Senegalese were good but undisciplined, the reason they were booted out earlier.

However Bafana Bafana lost to a Nigeria squad that could soak up the pressure and improvise to create something out of nothing.

Only a team like South Africa can beat Nigeria. May I say that Cote d’Ivoire is not in that class at present.

The Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire may have improved tremendously, they are still a gang of players who have overworked themselves to save their faces in this tournament. They are not yet a team.

The Elephants had risen from that miry clay of shame to protect the pride of their country by getting to the final, which for me should be applauded even if they fail to win this cup.

But they may not win because they will be facing Super Eagles, a more organised team, that has refused to break despite all odds.

Between the two, Super Eagles are stronger, more tactical and more organised. The Super Eagles have shown character, resilience and quality but the only thing that had sustained the Elephants is their efficiency, which for me can fail against a more relaxed team like Super Eagles.

Nigerian team can be defined as having the strongest defence, strong attack but a less creative midfield. However, Coach Jose Peseiro has compensated for the lack of a creative midfielder with his style of play.

The team has always compelled its opponents to adapt to its style except Bafana Bafana.

What the Eagles lack in ball possession in this tournament has been compensated for in an attack that can trouble any opponent.

That explains why the team could score two goals against a more compact team like Bafana Bafana. However one of the goal was disallowed.

Even at that, the Super Eagle’s Terem Moffi was on his way to score another goal before the South African defender brought him down at the edge of 18 yard box.

These are the features the Elephant of Cote d’Ivoire will have to cope with for 90 or 120 minutes, which for me will be handful.

Eagles have not played the best of Football but they have played purposeful football of seeking a goal and getting it no matter how it will come.

The Super Eagles didn’t come to this tournament to entertain anybody but to adhere to formation and win anyhow.

To Cote d’Ivoire, the team will have the crowd, the VAR and the referee. This is where the Super Eagles must be very careful and be more professional.

Another thing that can help Cote d’Ivoire is their tactics, which if they get it right to neutralise Peseiro’s ingenuity as South Africa did. But I doubt the Elephants’ capacity to execute Bafana Bafana’s strategy.

The Super Eagles must be so disciplined on Sunday while they allow the Elephants to misbehave and get red card just like South Africa.

Cote d’Ivoire are coming with vengeance, having being beaten by Nigeria at the preliminaries. This mentality may spell doom for the Elephants and be an advantage to the Super Eagles.

After Sunday’s final, I pray to jubilate with Nigeria.

By Kunle Awosiyan

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