“We had a good team on paper, unfortunately, the game was played on grass.”
That famous quote by legendary coach Brian Clough feels very appropriate for the first two Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches played by Nigeria.
The Super Eagles managed a well-deserved 3-2 loss in Calabar and an undeserved point gained against Bafana Bafana of South Africa, who can only blame their poor finishing and inexperience for failing to take all three. While the South Africans lacked composure and clinical finishing, Claude Le Roy’s Congo had Thievy Bifouma to rely on, although Ogenyi Onazi, Kenneth Omeruo and Godfrey Oboabona were all complicit in making the former West Bromwich Albion loanee look like Thierry Henry.
Against the Congolese and the South Africans, The Super Eagles were, as usual, predictable, useless at set pieces, opted for kick-and-follow football, and could barely string meaningful passes together. Is it safe to say that Stephen Keshi has reached his peak with the national team and that it’s time for fresh ideas in the dressing room?
Or is it the administrative disaster at the Glass house that is impacting performances on the pitch?
There’s no perfect answer to either question, but two things are clear.
1.Keshi’s team has not improved since their Afcon triumph.
2.Aminu Maigari and Chris Giwa are not in charge of the Super Eagles’ dressing room.
Brian Clough was one of the greatest managers of all time so it’s logical to refer, to another of his most famous quotes “Rome wasn’t built in a day. But I wasn’t on that particular job.”
Keshi said, after the South Africa game, that the team has not been together for long and that it is taking time for its various components to gel which is a fair comment to a certain degree. Taking a closer look, however, it’s hard to give too much weight to the manager’s observations.
Maigari | A lot to answer for…
He’s been in charge of this team for three years and yet there’s been no significant improvement in playing style. Despite having a core group of players to call upon, it remains difficult to describe how the team play. In simple terms, they lack identity and three years is more than enough time to forge that.
Not many can explain the role of John Obi Mikel in the team, for example, while Ogenyi Onazi is a decent player who could run all day but his weight seems to be developing faster than his technique. It is hard to understand if Nnamdi Oduamadi is a midfielder or a striker, and only the Big Boss has a clue as to why Ramon Azeez is a better playmaker than Nosa Igiebor.