THE EAGLES CELEBRATING A WIN, THEY WERE PERFECT AGAINST CAMEROON...
Friday was a red letter
day for Nigerian football. The 4-0 victory over Cameroon is a result nobody
could have predicted, despite the 3-0 defeat they suffered when the two
countries last met in a friendly game. A lot happened on the day, and here are
The Eagles played a perfect game. Now don’t confuse ‘excellent’ with ‘perfect’; The
1980 Nations Cup Final was an excellent game. The Nigeria versus Bulgaria at
the 1994 World Cup was excellent. An excellent game was the first leg of the
2003 CAF Champions League Final, the year Enyimba won. An excellent game combines
fantastic football with the right result; in a perfect game, effective football
gives you a fantastic result; Enyimba were perfect in the 2nd leg of
the 2003 Final, the Eagles were perfect on Friday. Mikel is blossoming again, and the Eagles are
benefitting. Mikel was awesome on
the day. When we put this analysis up, the 2nd referred to him.
Mikel played the right pass all day, he set Odion Ighalo up with a brilliant
pass, and his goal is a result of amazing positioning and unusual presence of
mind. The central defensive pairing of Leon Balogun and
Troost Ekong is the best Nigeria has had in years. And that is no disrespect to anybody. Balogun’s
timing on tackles and Ekong’s positioning in defence were a joy to watch. We
saw how one looked lost without the other against South Africa, and how assured
both were against Cameroon, as they had been when played together in previous
matches. Gernot Rohr has found a winning combination! False 9’s may be ruling world football, but nothing
beats a battling center forward.
That was the truth Kingsley Eduwo highlighted against Benin Republic in the
CHAN qualifier, and that was the same thing Ighalo showed with the way he
shrugged off Adolf Teikeu on the way to opening the scoring. His strength on
the ball caused the Cameroonian back line all sorts of problems. A good defence line helps the goalkeeper settle. This is an oft-neglected or conveniently-forgotten
truth in football. Some goalkeepers are prone to errors, and some are downright
awful. But a solid defence will protect a team better than a world class
goalkeeper. After all, we’ve seen great keepers’ ship soft goals. Daniel Akpeyi
may have his issues, but the whole team was out of shape against South Africa.
Ikechuckwu Ezenwa is a great goalkeeper, and it showed when a brilliant pair
played in front of him! Finally, it’s all about the team. The defence missed Balogun, the midfield missed Mikel
and the attack was without Ighalo and Moses against Bafana Bafana. Two players
based in China, and a player who has not played a game in the Bundesliga,
pairing one that plays in Turkey were the keys to dismantling the African
Champions. Individual talent is good, but those talents must fit into a team
structure. Whatever happens in Yaounde on
Monday, the Eagles are going to the World Cup. Gernot Rohr is forging a team
that will be feared across Africa, the Eagles are soaring again.