The U23 Team Are Through To The Quarter Final, But…


The Nigeria U23 Team were the last team to arrive at the Olympic Games, but they became one of the first to qualify for the quarter finals following the tense 1-0 victory over Sweden. Samson Siasia breathed a sigh of relief after that game. His lads almost caused us to revert to our past time of using calculators. And from what we saw against Sweden, a few notes…

A funny statistic showed up with the game winding down: The Nigerian goalkeeper, Emmanuel Daniel was said to be the only keeper left yet to make a save in the competition. That was after a Twitter suggestion by Nigerian sports journalists that Daniel Akpeyi would have been a better option. At the end of the game, the Swedes had only one shot on target, it was kneed away by a defender. He is yet to make a save after 180 minutes. Curious.

The defence needs work, lots of it. The legend is that Siasia’s teams tend to be weak defensively, but are usually so good going forward, that it does not matter. Maybe that is why he hasn’t won anything outside Africa. The mantra in team sports is: A good attack wins you games, but defence wins Championships. The man from Bayelsa will do well to heed this. If he wants to take home the Olympic Gold, he must find a way to make the defence better.

The attack has brilliant individuals, but the forward line must mesh. Oghenekaro Etebo, Sadiq Umar, Imoh Ezekiel…three brilliant attackers, three different units. That is the problem, they have to become ONE unit. Etebo was brilliant all day, but it translated to only one goal. Forget the excellence of Andreas Linde, the Nigeria U23 team were wasteful and (mostly) uncoordinated. The team that wants to ‘outshoot’ the other must at least score. On the evidence of this outing, the five goals against Japan were fortuitous.

Finally, this time a non-football matter: after the “Twitter war” between the ‘Super-Agent’ and the ‘Special Assistant on Media’ just days ago, it was baffling to see both the minister and the agent sitting side by side at the stadium, jubilating when Nigeria scored. The matter that caused the war is under investigation, hopefully the investigation will end. Hopefully we will hear the truth…

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