There is precious little to get excited about when it comes to the Super Eagles these days. Inability to progress in one tournament followed by failure to qualify for the grandest stage of all and then continual failure to defeat rivals, the list is near inexhaustible and always ever painful.
So, I approached yesterday's high profile friendly against Algeria with bruised expectations and the scars were further deepened after the disappointing 2:1 defeat, the third straight defeat to Algeria in three years.
Having said that though, it was a thrilling and thoroughly enjoyable game to watch. I was glued to the edge of my seat throughout as both teams battled away like brutal matadors for 90 odd minutes.
Moffi was relentless in sniffing out the opportunity off the rebound and ruthless in putting the chance away for Nigeria's goal in just 9 minutes. Rash defending from Onyeka gifted Algeria the penalty that was expertly dispatched by Mahrez in 41 minutes only for Attal to unleash a fiendish blast from well over 25 yards that left a poorly positioned and napping Uzoho clutching at straws in 61 minutes.
2:1 it ended, another groundhog day ended for a poor Super Eagles fan :( .
The good thing is that I could see what Peseiro was trying to achieve.
Also, I admire the passion and hunger of the Portuguese gaffer from the touchline as he barked out instructions and vociferously showed his displeasure at times which almost earned him a red card from the controversial referee.
It was a distinct-direct style from the Super Eagles - no dressing the ball too much in midfield. They had this quick turn-around methodology that threatened to produce a flood of goals. Algeria would have possession for long periods and then lose it around Nigeria's 18 yard box. Before you could take a breath, the Super Eagles would retrieve possession and be in Algeria's 18 yard box with a little less than a sequence of 4 to 5 passing routine.
It was great and wonderful to see. It added to the entertainment value of the game and produced plentiful moments of excitement.
Peseiro's Super Eagles are not interested in possession football. They just want to score goals quickly and many of these.
For this approach to work, they have to eliminate defensive sloppiness and needless mistakes from their game: the sort of sloppiness and mistakes produced by Onyeka and Uzoho yesterday.
It's a game of narrow margins, those lapses in judgment and concentrate yesterday served as the difference between 1:0 to Nigeria and 2:1 to Algeria.
Additionally, for Peseiro's philosophy to yield more fruits, his strikers have to be razor sharp. It was heartwarming for me to see Nigeria carve out and create plentiful goals scoring opportunities yesterday.
There were no rigmaroles, those Eagles only had one thing on their minds in possession: run up the pitch and score quickly.
But many of their shots were either lame or tame. A key downside of Nigeria's direct style was that they became way too predictable which made their efforts easy-pickings for Algeria's defence.
As the match wore on, particularly in the second half, the North Africans began to anticipate Nigeria's crosses, through passes and long balls with greater degree of accuracy.
Hence the Super Eagles became less lethal in the course of the game.
The Algerian defenders were celebrating their crossing interceptions and blocks as if they scored a goal in the second half - so happy were they that they had worked out Nigeria's plans and had neutralised these effectively and ever more frequently.
Peseiro just needs to add more variety to his just-in-time bulls eye all round attacking style. He also needs midfielders with better ferocity and technique in taking long range shots.
Super Eagles fans will have to be comfortable with seeing the Nigeria cede possession but the predictability that comes with this has to be addressed.
I was very happy to see all the players deliver their performances with passion, pride and patriotism. They were fired up for this game and it showed in how they executed their manager's game plan. I couldn't ask for more in this regard.
They showed chemistry and coordination but lacked the quality to really see through their early lead. Our wingers were lively but they were predictable and they still hug the ball long enough enough to allow themselves to be crowded out.
The Super Eagles' passes were incisive and insidious but their ultimate end products were disappointing for the most parts. They attempted several long range shots with technique that left a lot to be desired, leading to shots that were easily gathered by Algeria's goalkeeper. They were disciplined in soaking pressure but they soaked far too much pressure leading to the second fatal goal.
There were many positives to take out of this game but negatives stick out like a sore thumb with massive areas of improvement.
By eliminating rough edges and sharpening their scoring boot, this Super Eagles outfit can come away with a more favourable outcome next time.
Despite the depressing outcome of this match, the Super Eagles appear to me to be moving in the right direction, albeit very slowly.
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