Notes from Eagles’ Poland Adventure

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The Super Eagles recorded another win against top class opposition in Wroclaw, when they defeated a full strength Polish team 1-0 in a pre-World Cup Friendly game on Friday. Though they came away with a victory, it wasn’t the best game the Eagles have played in recent times. Here are some of the observations.

We are back to ‘misusing’ dead balls again. Before Victor Moses took over the job of taking dead balls, Nigerian fans got used to the sight of Mikel Obi floating ‘lazy’ balls that were easily dealt with. Moses came on the scene, and the era of whipping meaningful balls commenced. However, football has now gone beyond just whipping it in; we seem to simply punt the ball and hope something comes out of it at indirect free kicks. Poland came close with a couple of free kicks they had. Simply put, we need to have pre-planned moves for our dead balls, especially the ones around the box, and we must develop varieties. These kicks are valuable. Especially as the Eagles looked impotent in the final third, where…

We may need a two man strike force. Ighalo was stranded most of the time, running that front line alone. The most successful teams have a two man strike-force, and if Kelechi Iheanacho was the supporting striker in this game, he played too far away from Ighalo. And that may have been caused by his dropping deep to help the midfield. Whatever may have been the cause, Ighalo will not make a dent on disciplined defences, playing alone. However,

The individual skills of the Eagles is still key, over team football. And this is especially true in the forward positions. The penalty that led to the goal came from the individual skill of Victor Moses, and that was arguably the best attacking move the Eagles made all day. We all saw flashes of what Iwobi is capable of in the early parts of the game. This may be the saving grace of the team – the unpredictability of the forwards.

The team will need all the friendlies, plus the two week camping before the World Cup, for maximum results, simply because the tournament is not a tea party. The nervous displays by some of the players, the disjointed play that was visible most of the game, and the many stray passes, can be attributed to the ‘newness’ of the team, Half of the players were starting a game together for the first time, and those things were bound to happen. But since the World Cup team is coming from this bunch, they must take their bonding from the dressing room onto the pitch, and it must reflect in their game.

Overall, it was a god game, although the Poles were wrongly denied a first half goal. There are still more friendlies to be played, but the Eagles got a win, and that is good for morale.

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