With the dust of disappointment yet to settle following the Super Eagles’ scandalous 1:0 home loss to the highly less fancied Central African Republic, the second leg of the encounter is just round the corner.
The team flew out today for the match scheduled for 2:00 pm tomorrow in Duala Cameroon (which serves as the home ground of CAR as their stadia were not approved by FIFA for world cup qualifiers).
The Super Eagles go into tomorrow’s match with their tail between their legs following the outcome of the first match in which they were heavily expected to win heavily. It ended in heavy disappointment for Nigeria fans who watched in horrific disbelief as Karl Namnganda’s 90th minute sumptuous strike for CAR was enough to put Nigeria to the sword in their own hunting ground.
The Super Eagles huffed and puffed but failed to find an equaliser despite the array of stars on display; players that Super Eagles fans wax lyrical about and throw bouquets at their performances in European club football week in week out.
However, the performance of the same players against CAR on Thursday only deserved eggs to be thrown at their faces. In truth though, I thought our players showed endeavour and created goal scoring opportunities but ultimately, they were bested by opposition they should never have lost to, more so at home.
Now Rohr and his boys have the opportunity to do it all over again in Duala on Sunday.
What To Expect In The Second Leg
It is reasonable to assume that CAR will almost seek a draw from this match which to them would be a favourable outcome as it would mean they have drawn 4 points from the far superior and more illustrious Nigeria. So, Nigeria can expect an overly defensive park-the-bus approach from CAR.
The prize of a victory (if they manage to do a double on Nigeria) will be breath-taking in the enormity of the prestige it will bring CAR and would also further advance their chances of qualifying for Qatar 2022.
Rohr’s Super Eagles cannot allow this to happen at all cost!
So, they will have to devise cunning ways to break CAR’S defence down, prize them open and then put away the chances they are able to create.
There is no place for the wastefulness that was sadly on display in the first leg with Osihmen, Awoniyi and Iheanacho spurning glorious chances.
Moses Simon is becoming too predictable with his runs and wayward with his crosses. Because of the way he runs, he is not balanced by the time he attempts his crosses which leaves his deliveries compromised.
Ejuke is yet to impose himself on games as he seems to blow hot and cold; more is expected of him. Osihmen’s wastefulness cannot be tolerated for a second match in a row while Awoniyi has to make better use of chances that come his way.
Rohr relied heavily on Balogun and Ekong to orchestrate goal scoring chances from long balls which I find rather odd! The midfield has to shoulder more of this responsibility. Aribo is yet to reprise his seminal classics against Brazil and Ukraine: he needs to step up in Duala.
Someone has to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Usually that person is Iwobi (and in the past Victor Moses) but in his absence, Captain Musa has to step up.
I encourage the retention of Uzoho as he showed sharpness in spells in Lagos despite the goal which was largely caused by centre-defensive blunder. But I will advise an overhaul of the Oyinbo wall that was breached.
Why Gernot Rohr doesn’t stick to the 5-3-2 formation for most of his matches is beyond me!
I said it 3 years ago that this formation brings out the best in the resources at his disposal. The formation makes effective use of our flamboyant wingers cum wingbacks, gives us solidity in midfield and makes sure that the main striker has support. It worked well when used by Rohr in the past.
The German tactician is under immense pressure from a large section of fans, football writers and wider stakeholders of Nigerian football. He needs to get his tactics right and demand nothing but victory from his boys in this return leg.
He is European; he needs to encourage the boys to win fouls in dangerous places and employ those cunning tricks that we see Argentina and England sometimes employ against less technical sides.
It is unclear whether a win for Nigeria this weekend would ease the pressure on Rohr; many have simply concluded that he is not good enough technically and tactically to lead Nigeria.
The embarrassing 1:0 home loss against Central African Republic was the last straw for even his most vociferous supporters!
As for me, before Rohr can be sacked, an enabling environment has to be established by which any coach will thrive. That is the more potent issue. Getting rid of Rohr might only make matters worse if the new coach has to work with incompetent and corrupt football administrators.
For now the focus should be on the return leg tomorrow where anything can happen – unlike the first leg when Nigeria were expected to cruise comfortably into victory.