The recent 3-2 win Nigeria recorded against Libya in an Africa Nations Cup qualifier tie decided in Sfax, Tunisia, was crucial for the country’s national team, the Super Eagles. We are happy that the country has now crawled back to the position it deserves on the group table of the continental football showpiece. We recall that Nigeria started the campaign on a very poor note by surprisingly losing 2-0 to South Africa in Uyo, Akwa Ibom.
The Eagles have responded well after the defeat by winning the next three games in the series. Nigeria went away to Seychelles to whip the team 3-0 under a very tough condition and a bad pitch. The recent back-to-back matches against Libya were the most dramatic. Nigeria recorded an emphatic 4-0 win in Uyo and four days later in the reverse fixture, the Eagles were leading 2-0 only to concede two second-half goals to bring the score to 2-2.
Towards the end, the winner came off the boots of Odion Ighalo who was able to score five goals in just two games for the country. The scoring spree was great for Ighalo’s confidence and it was also remarkable that the national team scored three goals or more in three consecutive games.
It is strange to have the Eagles record such a feat especially with two of the games played away from home. It is important to state how Eagles moved from the third position to the first in Group E. While Nigeria was winning against Seychelles away, South Africa were being forced to a 0-0 draw by Libya in Johannesburg and while the Bafana Bafana failed to win in Seychelles, the Eagles grind out a result with the 3-2 score in Tunisia. Nigeria currently has nine points, South Africa has eight, Libya has four points while Seychelles has only one point.
It is easy to assume that Nigeria will book a ticket to the Nations Cup with two matches left against South Africa away in Johannesburg and Seychelles at home in Uyo.
At this point, we want to again congratulate the team, the coaching crew led by German Gernot Rohr and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), but to maintain this position is very important especially with the forthcoming away fixture in Johannesburg. We also make bold to say the team was impressive in the two ties against Libya despite the absence of skipper Mikel Obi.
While appreciating the country’s turnaround in Group E, we want to say that the Eagles are yet to pick the ticket to the Nations Cup. After missing the tournament in the last two editions, we hereby charge the team to confirm the ticket in Johannesburg. Any result will be good enough but because Nigeria lost in Uyo to the South Africans, the teeming football fans in the country will appreciate a sweet revenge. We believe this is possible. Let us clearly state, however, that the team is lacking in cohesion especially in the middle.
Rohr should look at the possibility of another combative midfielder to help the defence and one more creative player to help the attack. Leicester man, Wilfred Ndidi, has been ruled out of the South Africa game due to card offences and it is a huge task for the technical crew. John Ogu or Ogueyi Onazi could step up for the position.
Eagles have the potential to get better. We urge for more hard work and focus now that the next match is less than a month from now. It is also interesting that the NFF and the players seem to have a great level of understanding as there were no issues about match bonuses after the Uyo encounter even though they were not paid.
They were determined to win in Tunisia and they made it. The role Alex Iwobi played in the two games against Libya showed that he is good enough for the Number 10 position and so if Mikel returns, he can play the holding role in front of the defence line. We charge Rohr, the football federation and the players to maintain the good run with better performances in the games ahead.
We also believe the Eagles should be looking at winning the next Nations Cup and not just participating. The three titles won so far is not a true reflection of the pedigree of the country on the continent.
The Eagles must not be complacent with their current position in the qualifiers, rather, they should maintain the top position to clinch the ticket in style. Rohr and his crew should develop a solid pattern for the team and strengthen the team including the goalkeeping department. Keeper Francis Uzohor will have to get better and it won’t be out of place to still challenge the top three keepers with more goalies good enough on current form.
We believe only the best is good enough for the Eagles and the national team deserves the best. It is not yet hurrah for the team, but we are happy the country is on track for a participation in the Nations Cup. Eagles should be preparing to win the trophy again especially because the last participation in 2013 was a win under late Stephen Keshi.
Source: New Telegraph