Can Liberia, Cape Verde and CAR cause Super Eagles problems?
A world cup qualifying draw seen favourable to the Super might turn out to be anything but if the national team handlers make the mistake of thinking they can simply coast through this round of qualifiers. On paper, Cape Verde, Liberia and Central Africa Republic should not be strong enough to stand in the way of the Super Eagles marching to the next round. But football is played on the pitch, not on paper. A Super Eagles squad boasting of world class players like Obafemi Martins were meant to make light work of Mozambique in the 2010 world cup qualifiers but an away draw put qualification in peril until the very last round of matches in which the same Mozambique did us a massive favour by shockingly defeating frontrunners Tunisia thereby gifting us world cup qualification. Only recently, Benin and Lesotho proved that with minimal effort, the Super Eagles’ defence can be breached. This is a theme that needs addressing because, whilst the brilliance of our players allowed us to claw our way back into those matches, we should not expect to always be that lucky – regardless of our opponents’ calibre. For all the progress that we have made in recent years under Gernot Rohr, two recent themes worry me: 1) drawing matches from a winning position (against Ukraine and Brazil) and 2) letting goals in early only to try to use individual brilliance to claw our way back into the match (in afcon qualifiers). Getting too carried away; thinking we are invincible; underestimating our opponents; rigid tactics, these are just some variables to be avoided if we are to make progress in this round of qualifiers. Be in no doubt, games against the Super Eagles are the games of the other teams’ lives. They will give sweat, tears and blood to squeeze favourable results from these matches – a draw will seem like a win for some of them! In Rohr, we have a brilliant coach but one that seldom seems to have an in-game plan B when things aren’t going so well. We – Super Eagles fans – see our team’s strengths. Our opponents are looking for our team’s weaknesses. It’s not whether they find it is the problem; it is how our coach will respond that is a matter of mild concern.