Can Nigeria avoid 2 defeats in a row when facing Tunisia this week?
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be seeking an outcome against Tunisia on Tuesday 13 October which would delight the fans following their slim 1:0 defeat in the hands of the Desert Foxes of Algeria on Friday.
This will be the second friendly match in 4 days for Gernot Rohr's vibrant Eagles as they seek to bring the smiles back to the faces of teeming fans.
“Sticking together as a team! Not the results we wanted (against Algeria) but we’ll take the positives from the game last night and keep improving. Better days ahead,” stated Yobo on Instagram.
Funny enough, goalkeeper Maduka Okoye expressed similar sentiments on twitter when he said the result against Algeria wasn’t what the team wanted. He said they are fully focused on the next game.
Now, on the theme touched on by Yobo and Okoye, how can the team get the result they want against Tunisia?
Quite bizarrely, after losing to Algeria on Friday, the friendly against Tunisia on Tuesday seems to me like a 3rd place Afcon match. And as Nigeria never loses 3rd place Afcon playoffs, I have an expectation of victory in this match.
When it comes to Afcons, the last 2 meetings between the North and West African nations have ended in 2 wins for Nigeria while Tunisia last recorded a victory in the semi-finals in 2004.
But this is a friendly match so winning should not be the only factor that will determine a positive outcome. Having said that though, losing 2 games in a row has the potential of denting the morale of the players and fans.
If we say that the Super Eagles are moving in the right direction, losing consecutive friendly matches has the prickling effect of punching a hole into that narrative.
So I think there is a lot riding on the outcome of Tuesday’s match as a direct repercussion of the loss against Algeria.
It’s tight rope to navigate.
On the one hand, you want the friendly match to be a light-hearted affair where new players and formations can be experimented. On the other hand, you do not want to lose game after game in the process.
“Rohr will definitely call for more players, because this is the building process of the team! and I believe they (players) will do better in their next match against Tunisia,” said Ibrahim Galadima, a former Chairman of the Nigeria Football Association.
I think Mr Galadima achieved a sort of balance in his comment: yes, try new plays however, play better than you did against Algeria (and hopefully win the match).
And I believe that they can achieve the result that Yobo and Okoye want.
In the match against Algeria – despite the loss – I saw players who were hungry, patriotic, dedicated, passionate, positive and all of them seemed to me to have the right attitude.
This is good!
Yes some performed better than others whilst certain players may have harmed their future chances with the team (with subpar displays) but it was never for the want of trying.
So, like Yobo said, I too see better days ahead. The players are talented and most of them have the right attitude.
Now it’s all about learning from past mistakes, clicking together as a cohesive unit and being flexible to adapt to their opponents’ tactics on the pitch.
The possibilities for this Super Eagles outfit remain very fascinating indeed.
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