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Six ways to catch the Nigerian Super Eagles

By Ralph Geeplay   

The Super Eagles of Nigeria, as far as the record and other things are concerned are the favorites in their first leg clash with Liberia for a place at South Africa 2013 Nations Cup. The match which takes place at the SKD on Saturday, September 8, is regarded as a qualifiers as both sides renew rivalries in what should be an intriguing affair in a very historic West African derby, which dates as far back as 1984.

Remember the battle between Nigeria’s Brazilian Coach Otto Gloria and the legendary Josiah N. Johnson, alias Mansayo.  A certain Segun Odegbami was in the Nigerians line up, and since then it has become a 7-3 in favor of Nigeria as far as the head to head record is concerned.

With both sides failing to qualify for the last edition of the Afcon finals co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, the onus is on them, mainly the Nigerians, to qualify. And the Lone Star also hoping to make it for the third time to the biennial African event. Supporters of the Lone Star can meticulously study six ways to catch a desperate Super Eagles that are under the tutelage of 1994 Nations Cup’s winning Captain Stephen Keshi. In all fairness, like any other team, the Nigerians are not unbeatable, and the Lone Star can show believe to do the unexpected.

These are just six things they should do to catch Keshi and his Super Eagles squad.

1) Press High up the Pitch:  In most cases in an away contest, the visiting team from a tactical standpoint, will be keen to slow down the game with the aim of starting from the back with neat build up play and observing the opponents. Taking into account that it is a two-leg event, and judging from the fact that the hosts will be hungry to get a goal early thus launching an all out onslaught, the intention of the visitors will be to frustrate them by slowing down the tempo.

The Lone Star must therefore press high up the pitch by adapting a high defensive line where they will close down their opponents in their own goal area as far as the by-line. In this way, the opponents will be forced to launch the ball upfront as there will virtually be no option which will make them to unsettle.

2) Disrupt Their Possession Game: Also in away matches; the away team will always be keen on being economical with the ball. Through this, they will be stingy, mean or somehow conservative with the aim of not giving the ball away cheaply. The Lone Star must therefore disrupt their possession game through hard work where they will be able to dispossess their opponents with the key phrase “Ball Retention Needed”.

The players must be able to get the ball back from their more illustrious opponents, and will be required to work indefatigably, and must be willing to fight for each other and complement each other’s effort.
To disturb the buildup of the two times African champions, the red, white and blue outfit must certainly work harder.

3) Squeeze the Wings: With two deadly wingers in Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses of CSKA Moscow and Chelsea respectively, in the Nigerian star saturated line up for Saturday’s clash, one key thing from a tactical note is that the visitors will have width in their game. They will play to the wide areas where their two innocuous wide men will be ready to pounce and provide deliveries for their top scorers, Ukwechukwu Uche and the in-form Emmanuel Eminike. As an antidote, the team (Lone Star) must close down the wings, so called “squeeze”. Through this, the attacking options of Keshi’s side will be limited as the wide areas will no doubt be their strongest link. The midfield will need to be staggered though, but there will be no need to lose sight of closing down the wings.

4) Concentrate in Dealing With Set Pieces: Another key element for an away team is to be effective in executing set pieces. It is no secret that Keshi and the rest of his technical men have and continue to practice set pieces to much effect. The two times Afcon wooden spoon recipients, the Lone Star, must therefore be mindful of how to defend set pieces as full scale concentration will be needed.

Be it a free kick, corner kick or any kind of dead ball mainly in their half, players of the Lone Star must be able to close down opponents quickly and there must be great concentration and understanding.

5) Take the Game to Them: The Super Eagles led by the 31 year old Joseph Michael Yobo as Captain (at age 31 may lack the pace to catch a young and quick forward), and will undoubtedly implore a zonal marking style in their game. By this, Captain Yobo and co. will sit in their zone and wait for opponents to reach them. Sensing this, the players of the Lone Star must come from deep to take the game to them. They must also have variation in their game by giving surprises, and kicking from long range as well.

The team will therefore be expansive, adventurous and risky, as some of the players must be allowed to be expressive, take on their opponents, chase the game with others keeping rein on their opponents.

6) Create and Bury the Chances: Like in almost every game, there will be chances. But when the chances come, the players must be able to bury them. They must create the chances and convert them. Goals are no doubt the life blood of a game; and the statics that matter most. Clinical finishing will therefore be a key factor in the melee on Saturday, September 8. Let it remain on the minds of each player that: Together, Everyone Achieve More (TEAM). With a solid team effort, beliefs and sheer determination, the Lone Star can make history.

Ralph Geeply can be reached at akklamm@gmail.com

Category: Arts & Entertainment, News Headlines, Sports

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