These Eagles are blazing hot!

By Daily Sports on November 14, 2016

Views: 10,251

Dear readers, you know my take on last Saturday’s World Cup qualifier game between Nigeria and Algeria on this page last week. A recap, “Eagles would win the match but it won’t be on a platter of gold, silver or diamond.” Through to type, it was keenly contested, both teams never gave each other an inch space. However, Eagles were hungrier. Though, the Eagles started on slow pace before they played themselves into game. The visitors initially stocked more men at the rear to checkmate the dangerous frays of Victor Moses and gang. Still it was the same Moses that nailed them.

Yes, this headline aptly describes the mood of the joyous moment that has engulfed numerous fans of the Super Eagles

My happiness is that Eagles read this column where an appeal to them to compound the woes of the boastful Foxes; and it was strictly heeded. Algeria is last on group B log. The country needs to win all its remaining matches home and away to come tops of the group, an uphill task, despite the no mathematics stance of football.

Victor Moses that turned out to be the tormentor in chief of the Foxes redoubled and reproduced his Chelsea form to demolish the deviant visitors. They won’t forget him in a. In short, all the Eagles played well except jittery Daniel Akpeyi that ran out of line to give the Greens their consolatory goal.   

Let me use this media to say that Nigeria does not have reliable second choice keeper yet. Akpeyi showed his unreliability on Saturday. He has shot himself on the leg. The Algerians saw his instability and started firing from outside the box. In short, they were instructed to shoot at sight. His so called experience that won him the number one shirt over very reliable younger Dele Alampasu nearly proved costly.

Gernot Rhor has a lot to do in that area. My stand is that Alampasu must be encouraged. Akpeyi scored near zero. He was the worst performer among the players. He was bad news. His composure deserted him during the epic clash. He helped to put undue pressure on the defence being marshaled by Balogun and Ekong. He failed woefully to organise the defence. It was a pure shame of Daniel Akpeyi.

I guess you watched the grudge game, which brought out the best of African football in both terms. Algeria as expected brought her usual tricks but the Eagles were equal to the task and the referee as veteran of many football battles knew these antics and stood firm from beginning to the end of the classic. He lived up to his billing.

The Uyo game witnessed lots of improvement on the team which points to the fact that the Franco-German born sweat merchant has touches he is gradually imbibing on the team. It went further to show that drastic things happened between October 6 to November 12, and all in the favour of the Nigerian side.

Sports Pulse is not saying we have a perfect team yet but there are still lots of work to be done here and there to knock together a crack strike force. Rhor should watch the video over and over and pin-point vivid headache areas the team needed real touching before the next game against Cameroun August 2017. Much, much job still undone. Understanding among the players in departments is lacking. Once the blending is achieved, then any team can come. Football is a team game and Rohr has to decisively look towards doing just that.  There must be no retreat or surrender. The journey is still far from being over. Eagles have not landed in Russia yet. 

The central defence has to be up and doing. Balogun and Ekong should be told in clearer terms that they have all it takes to intermediate opposing attackers. There should be no panic. Their slogan is firm forever. No more, no less. Once both strike understanding, it will be so reliable and water tight central area. The wings back was stable in the hands of Kenneth Omeruo and Elderson Echijile.  Faster attacker in Odion Ighalo is needed to pair not too aggressive Iheanacho. Ahmed Musa justified his coming in as it gave hard bite to Eagles front line that gave birth to the third back breaker of a goal.

Onazi, Etebo did yeomen’s job in the game. John Mikel Obi is having his finest hour in the national team. He is now Obi reborn. He plays matured game spiced with great output.

Before the qualifier, in an interview with Daily Sports, veteran former member of NFA, Prince Isidore Oduah predicted Obi would inspire Eagles to victory over Algeria. It was perfect and sweet.  He led the team to its third back to back victory. I salute his leadership qualities. I am sure Antonio Conte watched.

I don’t know whether you observed that the Eagles played like gang each player covering for the other’s lapse (s) during trial moments of the epic Russia 2018 qualifier game against the adventurous Algerian side.

The players loss of confidence in themselves, I must be frank is fast giving way. It again manifested against cunning and slippery Foxes as players individually and collectively exhibited depth and sense confidence while on the ball without any panic. It showed great team is evolving.

Super Eagles is on my lips because I am one of the very few Sports Journalists that have written balance news reports and in this page about the team, NFF leadership and sundry. Mine is always no-hold-barred, knowing not whose ox is gored. I played a frontline role which NFF leadership often expressed their dismay. Some even went to the extent of labeling me with what never was.

The tonic that is working this magic is the spreading of our tentacles that caught good number of our players in the Diaspora who willingly agreed to wear the historic Green White Green colours. The lads have added value to the team. Their presence has also instilled a good measure of fear and respect to the team by opponents. More white boys of Nigerian origin will come to join.

My heart for Iwobi, Balogun and Ekong. The entire players have stamped themselves as first team lads in their respective club sides, and doing great too. Rhor is lucky and sensitive. He is cashing in on this to harvest.

The Greens were their usual self with their bag of tricks. Eagles players worked extra hard to contain them and establish themselves in the highly technical and tactical big match.

The victory is significant in many ways. Not that the Algerians had an edge over Nigeria in football but this set of Foxes were so hyped that fears would undo their opponents. Their danger men were highlighted, but the finest was the bold pre-qualifier reprisal by war commander and captain of the team, Mikel Obi, which was followed by Victor Moses, Etebo and others that tamed the visitors no matter their antics.

From whichever angle you look at it, Algeria is a hard nut to crack and it is thumbs up for coach Rhor tutored lads. The Algerians are number three in Africa. The Foxes are no push overs. The Eagles prepared well for the game thus the result.

The Eagles have compounded the woes of their opponents. They have sent a dangerous signal to her next opponent, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun. Eagles sent the Chipolopolo of Zambia and the Foxes of Algeria packing in this first round of World Cup 2018 qualifier series. It is no mean feat. The team has a clean slate so far. Uyo Stadium associated with its hard luck for teams has been thoroughly cleansed, meaning that respite has come.

It was a hard-won game. The visitors fought from all fronts gamely spiced with their usual tricks but met an unwilling team that prepared to the teeth. The teams sweated from the pants and it won’t amount to over statement to posit, that they even saw their ears. It remains one match to remember for long, long time to come.

The qualifier was a star game that involved two of the bests in the continent. Rhor is rebuilding and he has not hidden where he wants the squad to be. He is not one for too much talk. He has shown is he in charge. The crew is in union in their spirited bid to bring Nigerian back into reckoning.  Pray it pays off handsomely. The good tidings should gather momentum and keep producing winning result so the Eagles would land in Russia World Cup summit grabbing the sole group B ticket.

Rough hurdles to cross and tough cross to bear ahead, no doubt, it will be more painful but with focus, concentration, determination and calm, the job would be gradually executed to standing ovation. Nigerians need World Cup ticket as consolation.

This is why a patriotic Nigerian from the Eastern zone is single handedly paying the team’s foreign technical adviser, Gernot Rhor.

Such thinking is depth. I will further liken it to good thinking, good product. The Franco- German technical hand will get better as we journey together. For the Nigerian that is bailing us out of this very controversial and naughty salary issue, it is kudos from us in Daily Sport and this column. I will let the cat out of the bag soon. To unveil the individual that picks Rohr’s bill. Stay with your soar away Daily Sports. Discussion continues! Keep shooting hard. Till next week!!

•Victor Enyinnaya can be reached via 08055068145 (sms only) or by e-mail via

Source Daily Sports

Posted November 14, 2016


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