Can Salisu Yusuf Mastermind A Monumental Comeback Against Ghana?
Forever tainted (in the eyes of many Nigeria fans) with the tar of bribery brush scandal, Coach Salisu Yusuf is hoping to redeem his image somewhat by masterminding an incredible comeback for his Chan(less) Super Eagles.
The 60 year old Zaria born tactician couldn't prevent his hastily assembled side from going down to a potentially unassailable 2:0 hit job away to Ghana in the first leg play off for the 2023 CHAN qualifiers last weekend.
He is now priming his team for a "good match" in the second leg tomorrow.
"Now we are looking forward to a good match on Saturday; We want to achieve a good result," stated this discredited coach.
I don't mind Salisu Yusuf at all. I think he is a very good coach tactically who carelessly got himself muddled up in a senseless bribery scandal - something that has the tendency to overshadow whatever he does, no matter how "good".
The performance of the home based Super Eagles in the first leg was not subpar but still inadequate. They kept the ball in the part of the pitch that posed little problems to Ghana whilst letting their guard down twice defensively. In truth, Ghana could have easily scored 1 more goal.
To get the "good results" Salisu alluded to, his team will need to be anything but "good". They will need to be brutal!
Ghana aren't in town to hand out Christmas presents.
Salisu's Eagles will have to be deadly up front, tight in midfield and ruthless in their pursuit of a clean sheet at the back.
But in Ghana they have a disciplined, well prepared and well drilled opponents who are well aware of the posterity magnitude of the occasion beyond the immediate assignment.
For me, Nigeria are the clear underdogs, a narrative that Salisu is not using to his advantage. Coaches like Gernot Rohr would have attempted to lure Ghana to a false sense of superiority by framing Nigeria as the underdogs due to our short preparation time.
Mind games are part and parcel of the game but I haven't seen Salisu employ this tactic.
I guess he is focusing on his strategy, rehearsed routines, formation and his players' application to do most of the talking. That being the case, it will be interesting to see how he brings his team out of the dead tomorrow.
If he does pull it off, his new nickname will be Lazarus. As for me, I am not holding my breath!