AFCON 2019 2nd Leg Game: Eagles Must Consolidate

By Daily Sports on October 15, 2018

Views: 23,789

This column saw it coming especially in the game that involved Nigeria and Libya as we discussed it extensively last week here. While we warned Eagles against taking the game for granted against their North African opponent, their minnows status notwithstanding, we also highlighted the strength of the Nigerian side which if well harnessed would be lethal in all departments. This advice paid off handsomely.

The qualifiers of the 2019 AFCON football summit which is the prime championship in the continent are on in many stadia in different countries igniting the renowned rivalries among nations fighting for qualification in the big game. Last weekend saw trailblazing results from South Africa and Nigeria against their opponents. The return legs will be played later this week.

 In Nigeria’s group, South Africa after great showing is now leading the group while Nigeria is on their heels. The return legs are anticipated to be explosive and only the fittest and the prepared would survive the fireworks, onslaught and the battle of supremacy that will ensue as the teams struggle to consolidate their positions. 

 To be honest with you, Super Eagles bounced back, manifesting their resurgence in the most prestigious football champ in Africa come 2019 presumably in Cameroun. It obviously won’t be an easy doubleheader second leg game as the teams in their home grounds would do everything gamely to turn the tide against opponents.

However, the preoccupation of this page is the challenge between the Super Eagles and the Mediterranean Knights of Libya in Tunisia later in the week. The game, no matter the angle you may be looking at it from will not be as easy despite the impressive 4-0 thrashing of the visitors in Akwa Ibom State International Stadium, Uyo on October 13.

The Nigerian side, from that first leg, showed lots of urgency and coordination; little wonder the result came early enough. The team also displayed purposefulness and team spirit to get the needed result. The lads played to instruction and worked hard which no doubt paid off handsomely.

It unsettled the Knights and brought them to submission. It further shut the team and their crew up. The former African Kings were also resolute throughout the encounter and that first leg showing would no doubt give them the great impetus to squarely face their opponents in the crucial second leg showdown that would count a lot in Nigeria’s quest to be among the finalists come next year.

I will submit that the outcome would mark the watershed in the tide of time for the West African country that is among the favourites to qualify from the group despite the very unpredictable nature of the round leather game.

However, since after that loss to South Africa in Uyo, Nigeria has picked her piece and pieces to play himself back into the reckoning. It is against this inflammable background therefore that Gernot Rohr paid glaring tribute to Odion Igalo on his rediscovered goals scoring self and called for caution in the way and manner these players are hit by media barbs and other editorial attacks in the social media.

In my candid opinion, the Nigerian side did not play badly against Libya and would be on the offensive mission in Tunisia as the crucial second legs tie berths. One can readily anticipate that the Eagles would leave nothing to chance no matter the condition the game would be played. The Nigerians are quite aware of the stakes and will embark on head-on collision against the minnows that can safely be regarded as spoilers.

As much as possible, it is good to note that the boastful Knights of Libya and the crew will not be wished away, 4-0 bashing or not. But methinks that if the preparations and selection will not be faulty, Rohr and his boys will triumph over their desperate opponents. 

It goes without saying that the dynamic leadership of Amaju Pinnick has invested on the project since its renewed mandate and the showpiece in Tunisia would not be lacking in the crucial second leg atmospherics. It would be tougher and tougher, no doubt. The renewed and fresh attention by the leadership of the NFF, one must emphasize, would bestow on the Eagles the urge for greater action and vigour to push Libya harder for total submission in their supposed home ground.

The Super Eagles has the capacity to get across this game and focus on the remaining games especially against South Africa. Once Nigerians believe they can take out Libya gamely and forge ahead then gradually we will be getting nearer to breast the tape or top shot. South Africans are not the type to leave anything to chance and so there is a need to throw everything into the remaining games to attain leadership of the group.

The end would justify the means and so there is fire on the mountain. One believes that careful planning and imaginative thinking coupled with quick action would see Nigeria through.

In terms of cooperation and action, the NFF leadership would not lag behind. The players and the crew are on the same page too. As all hands are on deck to see this mission accomplished, it is wise to hail Governor Udom Emmanuel and his government in Akwa Ibom for yet another five star posting in the game against the Libyans. The atmosphere in and around the imposing arena and the serenity in the state in no smaller measure gave the Eagles added sense of full concentration to undo their opponents.

As we keep our fingers crossed and look earnestly to the second leg, we would remain active on our social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and WhatsApp. As we look forward to fantastic result in Tunisia against the loud-mouthed Knights of Libya later in the week, we must sound it clear here that the Libya you saw in Uyo on October 13, would be different in the second leg; therefore no complacency of any kind should be allowed if flames of our 2019 quest to be in the finals must continue to burn. Quick thinking and execution must be the watchword, no more, no less. Keep shooting hard till next week!!

Source Daily Sports

Posted October 15, 2018

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