Tuesday, June 17, 2014 10:53 am
Nigeria’s Super Eagles kicked off their 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign with a goalless draw against Iran, a result that fell well below the expectations of Nigerian fans who wasted no time in voicing their disappointment.
Odemwingie should be starting
A major talking was why Osaze Odemwingie did not start, justified by the spark of life that came after he was brought on in the second half. Before then, our forward forays were uncoordinated and failed to threaten the Iranians.
While indeed Nigeria started the match the better side, none of Emmanuel Emenike, Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa were able to sustain the high intensity after the opening 15 minutes and based on Odemwingie’s substitute display, he should be starting our matches against Bosnia and Argentina.
The quality of Nigeria’s crossing was abject to the point that 25 unsuccessful ones had been swung in by the end of the match while only one met the intended target. Even then, Shola Ameobi failed to make the most of that chance, heading wide.
If Nigeria must deploy the option of crossing into the area, our wing players must work greatly on their technique in training and make the balls count.
Until Odemwingie’s introduction, Nigeria had shown little creativity in attack. Moses and Musa were not productive from the wings while Mikel Obi was not forthcoming from his deep lying midfield role.
All that rendered Emenike anonymous in the match, forcing him wide at times in order to come into play and denying us of a pointman as a result… all because there was nobody to take the initiative for Nigeria.
It is never enough for a player to always be expectant of a ball loyal to his position, rather the player must move into channels a lot of times to meet an inviting ball.
Nigeria’s players failed to exercise those channels and as a result, the Iranians were able to grow in composure and defend against Nigeria as the attacking play of the Super Eagles failed to unsettle the Iranians.
Joseph Yobo came on to earn his 98th cap for the Super Eagles as Godfrey Oboabona was forced off with an injury in the 30th minute but rather than get on with play, he went straight to get the armband from Vincent Enyeama.
Usually, the armband is exchanged when the player wearing it is being substituted. Otherwise, the player wearing the band at the start of the match usually keeps it on regardless of not being the team captain.
While there is nothing wrong on the surface for Yobo to take over captaincy from Enyeama; being the designated team captain, it may have been better to take the armband from Enyeama at half-time.
Never give in to the nerves
Coach Stephen Keshi alluded in his post-match statement that his players were nervous during the match, stifling them from playing according to plan.
That is understandable, considering this is the first World Cup for a good number of the players including Mikel Obi and Moses among others but buckling under pressure is not what is expected of a continental champion.
Nigeria overcame a nervous start at the 2013 Cup of African Nations as well on their way to winning the title and hopefully, the nerves would be absent when Nigeria files out against the Bosnians in Saturday’s late kick-off.