Will The Romance Between Ugbade and Nigeria Fans Stand The Test of Time?
In their curtain raiser against Zambia, the Golden Eaglets imposed their will on their opponents in the first half with flair without yielding much fruit.
It was, for all intent and purposes, one way traffic for the young Nigerians.
But Nigeria fans should be worried. The fact that the Golden Eaglets couldn't crown their dominance with a tiara of goals was bothersome for me.
They showed a high level of communication and coordination with their interplay of cute (but not cunning) passes that gave safe passage to Zambia's delicate area only for the ghost of predictability to rear its ugly head.
The Golden Eaglets were somewhat predictable in the final third by overloading the right wing whence they tried but failed to open up their foes with cut backs that were cut off by Zambians.
Things didn't improve in the second half.
The Zambian coach made substitutions and tweaked their tactical approach which sort of had the Golden Eaglets on the ropes earlier in the second half.
Now, the early signs of fans discontent were showing as Nigeria fans following the game live were bemoaning Ugbade’s slow response to Zambian masterclass that was unfolding right before our very eyes.
Within 10 minutes of the second half, Zambia had made 3 substitutions in their pursuit of the highly prized 3 points in this group of crocodiles. But Ugbade folded his arms and did nothing, much to the frustration of many fans.
Against the run of play and a somewhat vindication of Ugbade’s inaction, the Eaglets took the lead from a neat buildup feather-bedded with a fine finish in 76 minutes from Daniel.
With a last throw of their dice, Zambia would make 2 further substitutions but it was us Nigeria that almost extended the lead only for Eke's timid effort from a penalty kick to be effortlessly gathered by the Zambian goalkeeper.
1:0 it ended.
By and large Nigeria fans appear appreciative. But we are a fickle bunch who are merely holding back the dagger at this stage.
The Golden Eaglets played well against a formidable and physical opposition. They withstood much pressure in the second half only to resurrect their campaign when it seemed to me they were releasing the last gasp of a dying man.
They look like a team that can and will improve as the tournament progresses. For the sake of their coach, I pray that will be the case.