Retrospective Reflections of Flying Eagles Win Against Mozambique
Two long range continental ballistic missiles from Lawal and Mohammed in the first half were all Ladan Bosso's wards needed yesterday to flatten Mozambique and power their way into the quarter finals of the ongoing Under-20 Afcon.
Despite the win and six points in their kitty, this Flying Eagles class of 2023 continue to divide opinions with some fans left disappointed in their brand of football despite scaling the group stages hurdle.
For me, they are slowly starting to resemble the same team that took the Wafu Zone B U-20 tournament by storm last season where clinical and audacious shots from long range were one of the staples of their untarnished success.
They now have a tricky quarter-final fixture to navigate on Thursday before laying claim to one of the World Cup tickets on offer.
Before then, I take a look at some of my reflections on yesterday's respectable win against Mozambique.
1) Impose their will: Nigeria were able to dictate play against a mildly decent opposition which was good to see. They were clearly the aggressors.
2) Goalkeeper distribution: Gloves-man Aniagboso continues to showcase a number of arrows in his quiver with neat distributions and a composed demeanor.
3) Long range shots: As a nod to one of the lethal weapons in their armory at the Wafu Zone B Cup last season, the Flying Eagles are starting to remind opponents of the venom they possess from long range.
4) Questionable defensive shape: The team were quite disjointed at the back at times with a wonky shape and inadequate support from offensive players. More technical sides might seek to exploit this.
5) Individual brilliance: The two goals of the game came as a result of two players taking the game by the scruff of its neck. That's one of the themes that Nigeria fans pay to see.
6) More bodies needed in key areas: It can be argued with merit that one of the reasons Nigeria resorted to several long range shots was limited football intelligence that led to them having inadequate bodies, predictable movements and unimaginative incursions into their opponents' 18 yard box.
Bosso's boys have to be reminded that they can never rely on wonder goals from long range strikes to see games through; they need variations, methodical build-up play, neat first touches, unpredictability in movements and deft incisiveness to see off far superior oppositions.
Bosso's boys are yet to look like a team that will take the world by storm in my humble opinion. Even in victories they look flat, uninspirational and even vulnerable.
Kudos to them for showing grit, determination and a willingness to go the extra mile. But something still seems missing for me to label them tournament winning article.
The prayer is that they manage grab a World Cup coupon on Thursday, at least that in of itself will be a milestone worthy of praise.