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Can Super Falcons Mastermind A Win In Abuja Against Cameroon?




Cameroon vs Nigeria (0:0) Review



I think Randy Waldrum has every reason to be buoyant of the Super Falcons' chances in the second leg of this Olympic Qualifiers because it only took the absence of VAR for Nigeria not to record at least a 2:0 victory in the first leg.


The 0:0 scoreline in Cameroon leaves the door open for either team to progress in truth.


Esther Okoronkwo was robbed of 2 legitimate goals after a perfect header that evaded the touch of the Cameroon goalkeeper was cancelled before a second goal was cancelled for offside with replays showing the China based striker was miles inside when Ucheibe launched the looping pass.



Waldrum had put out his strongest squad for this encounter signalling his intentions of leaving the encounter with nothing less than a win.


Some anti-Waldrum fans had posited that stand-in coach Magudu would have orchestrated a win because of his victories against Ethiopia and Cape Verde. Well, a draw against Brazil is as good as wins against Cuba and Guatemala (if you get my drift). I don't even know how Magudu's presence would have averted the VAR-Absence decisions that went against us.


Anyways I enjoyed the game nonetheless. It was played at a level of intensity befitting a game of this magnitude.


It was great to see Toni Payne deployed in her natural winger position but I was rathered perplexed when, through on goal with only the goalkeeper at her mercy, she elected to pass to Oshoala who wasn't even in prime position thereby ruining a great opportunity.



Tosin Demehin started waywardly with a poor long pass but she would redeem herself with powerful displays as the match progressed.


Waldrum deployed a 4-2-1-3 formation with a triangle midfield of Ucheibe, Ayinde and Abiodun. The idea was to slide through passes to Oshoala or the wings and this did produce plentiful opportunities. But many through passes were either too long or they found Oshoala offside. When Oshoala was onside, she either overran the ball, pushed the ball too far forward or delivered inadequate crosses


Some of the offside calls were also contentious as replays showed Nigerians onside.


In the first half, Nigeria struggled to create clearcut scoring chances despite healthy possession. If fact it was Cameroon that would come closest to score. But all that would change in the second half after the Super Falcons picked up the pace and started asking credible questions of the Cameroon defence with injection of fresh legs.


Ajibade and Plumptre would be muscled off the ball on occasions but they both grew thicker skins as the game wore on with Plumptre even earning a yellow card for her overtly physical approach.



At some point, the Super Falcons relied on long balls from deep midfield or even from defence to locate the strikers but Cameroon interceptors were on hand to prevent the balls reaching the target. 


As alluded, heavy touches did let Oshoala down on some occasions but she always (to me) seems more deadly when operating from the flanks. Her supersonic speed still creates problems as she makes the defenders really work extra hard to stop her once in flight. It took outstretched Cameroon leg or lung bursting chase to stop Oshoala when she ran down from the flanks. She even had a decent shot saved but, I have to be brutally honest, I find Oshoala's game so frustrating to watch at times - you just feel she should have the wits and intelligence to do more than trouble defenders with raw pace (reminiscent of her Under-20 days, it seems to me that her game never evolved, but I feel compelled to accord her the respect her stature demands). 


Towards the end of the match, Cameroon became far more organised at the back effectively curtailing Nigeria's forrays. 


Nigeria played very well. Waldrum’s through ball philosophy opened up huge gaps and craters in Cameroonian defence only for dubious decisions to cancel out goals or issue non existing offsides. The philosophy of crossings also caused Cameroon problems. The Super Falcons defence was rattled at times and the fullbacks (Imuran and Alozie) were either well drilled or caught in no-woman's land. Deborah Abiodun was slightly low key as an attacking midfielder and Toni Payne didn't really stamp her authority in her winger position. Oshoala remains an enigma and Ajibade didn't really have one of those explosive performances. 


But, the Super Falcons created excellent chances that could have led to a victory had VAR being used.


Conclusion:


Watching this game didn't represent a waste of my time. Despite the dubious decisions, I still applaud the match officials as I feel some of those scenarios were difficult to capture without the aid of VAR.


Most of our substitutes made cases for themselves to start in the next match particularly Okonkwo, Echegini and Rinsola.


Waldrum was justified in his formation, selection and substitutions as credible chances were created and a clean sheet was kept.


A big thank you to Cameroon Football Federation for filming the match and providing commentaries that elevated the experience and made the match more wonderful to watch even though the commentators clearly and understandably favoured Cameroon.


Nigeria should be able to power to a win in Abuja, barring unforseen circumstances.


 Esther Okoronkwo, Jennifer Echegini and Rinsola Babajide performed admirably as subs thereby pushing for starting slots. 


The Super Falcons to me demonstrated enough firepower to suggest that fans will ultimately smile at the end of the match .




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