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Super Eagles Too Slow, Predictable

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Chelsea FC chief scout, Michael Emenalo, has suggested that the Super Eagles lost to Egypt because they were too slow and predictable in their build-up.

Emenalo, whose job involves scouting opponents for the Chelsea coaching staff, watched the team he represented as a defender at the 1994 World Cup lose to Egypt and offered his thoughts to Tidesports source on the positives and negatives from the game.

“Tactically, I love the way they started,” the former Nigeria left back began. “They looked organised and good in midfield and they kept possession very well.

“I also liked the idea of Uche on the left side, but coming in to fortify the midfield and I liked the width in transition offered by Obasi.”

However, that is as good as it got, as Emenalo proceeded to pick out the holes that the Egyptians exploited in the latter stages of the half, and for the rest of the game.

“I didn’t like the way Uche didnt track back and didn’t support Yakubu. There was no width in transition like with Obasi.

“As a team, there were no clear ideas on transition. Everything looked pedestrian. The build-up from the back and from midfield looked slow, and the only real transition was Mikel switching Obasi to get in behind the defence.

“Our movement off the ball was not quick enough and it was predictable.

“Egypt moved the ball faster and always looked for the forward pass, with positive haste.”

If the midfield took knocks, Emenalo still had more to spare for the defence.

“I can’t question the tactics as I am not there and I don’t know what the coach’s instructions were. But there was a lack of defensive solidity.

“From a scouting point of view, the back four were constantly on a jagged edge all over the place and that allowed the opposition for through balls, especially through Taiwo.”

Overall, the verdict was damning.

“We didn’t have any kind of balance or organisation. One of the basics in football is that if you are attacking from one flank, you keep a balance centrally and on the opposite flank. They didn’t have that.

“We just lacked purpose with the use of the ball and the maturity. They were keeping possession, but did not seem to have a purpose for the possession.”

And Emenalo had one final, not so flattering thought for the Eagles.

“One other thing that has been our bane in Nigeria, and maybe most of Africa, is a lack of emotional commitment. Players have to understand what the game means. You can’t take your eyes off it.

“In those 90 minutes, you have to be fully concentrated on the game. The Egyptians understood that, but our players did not.

“There is an example of that when Enyeama had the ball and was looking to release it quickly. An Egyptian player ran in front of him to stop him from starting the counter attack until his team mates had regrouped. That shows that Egypt understood what was at stake.

“You don’t stand when the opposition is in possession. Egypt were constantly in motion.”

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Nigeria, Ghana To Battle For W/Cup Ticket

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West African rivals Nigeria and Ghana will play each other for a place at the 2022 World Cup, in arguably the pick of a number of dramatic-looking ties following the deciding draw at the weekend for Africa’s five places in Qatar.
The two powerhouses were paired up just days after Ghana finished bottom of their group at the Africa Cup of Nations after suffering a 3-2 defeat against first-time qualifiers Comoros.
Former Liverpool forward El-Hadji Diouf was one of the people performing the draw and commented that one of Liverpool’s current star strikers Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah will be guaranteed a place at the tournament after Senegal were paired against Egypt.
Cameroon, the hosts of the ongoing Nations Cup, was drawn against the current holders, albeit already eliminated from this year’s tournament ,Algeria.
DR Congo, who last qualified for the World Cup in 1974 when the country was known as Zaire, has a tough challenge if they are to make it to a second tournament, as they will face Morocco.
Meanwhile Morocco’s neighbours, Tunisia will get through if they overcome the only team in the draw to have never been at a World Cup in any form, Mali.
Meanwhile, ex- international, Mutiu Adepoju has said that Ghana’s failed expedition at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations can play into Nigeria’s hands when both teams meet in the 2022 World Cup qualifying play-off. The Super Eagles are hoping to qualify for the global football showpiece for the seventh time in their history, albeit, they must negotiate their way past their cross-country rivals.
For the Black Stars, they are still fresh from a disastrous outing in Cameroon where they crashed out of the group stage without recording a win after three matches.
The aftermath saw the Ghana Football Association show Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac the exit door as the West Africans are expected to name a replacement in the coming days.
Assessing Nigeria’s chances towards qualifying for the World Cup billed for Qatar, the La Liga ambassador, who represented the senior national team for 12 years, was asked if the state of football in Ghana could mar the Black Stars’ hopes, and Adepoju answered.
”Sure! that can play into the Super Eagles’ advantage and it is good for us, but we should do our homework well and the players must be ready and prepared for the big game.
“However, having disappointed at the Africa Cup of Nations and following their absence from the 2018 edition in Russia, the Black Stars will do all it takes to return to the big stage.
“Even at that, the quality in our team and with a positive mindset, I strongly believe that Nigeria will triumph.”
To some, pairing either DR Congo or Mali would have been an easier matchup, but the former Real Madrid star did not agree with that assertion, insisting the teams that made the play-offs are of equal strength.
“Any team that we are paired with would not have been easy because all the countries worked so hard to reach this stage,” he continued.
“That being said, the rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria has been very strong over the years and I don’t expect the Super Eagles to have it all smooth.
“If we get our act right and prepare very well, we will beat them to qualify for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.”
Ghana will hold the first leg while the Teslim Balogun Stadium is likely to host the reverse fixture, also in March.

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AFCON 2021: Tunisia Stops Nigeria

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Nigeria’s Super Eagles have crashed out of the ongoing 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon after coming unstuck against a tactical and resolute Tunisian side in the round of 16 in Garuoa, last night.
In the battle of the Eagles, the Tunisians, courtesy of an early second half goal, a long range by Youssef Mskani shot that keeper Mmaduka Okoye failed to deal with, consigned the Nigerian team to also ran as far as the championship is concerned. They will now go ahead to meet Burkina Faso in the quarter final stage, while the Super Eagles would fly back home.
Indeed, it was an anticlimax for Nigerians after the Eagles promised so much with their group stage performances. The Austin Eguavoen tutored team was expected to have subdued the Tunisians owing to their labored route to qualification, not a few Nigerians and Super Eagles fans tipped the Nigerian team for a place in the next round, even all the way to the championship game.
But a tactical master class by the Tunisians, especially on Nigeria’s two wingers, Moses Simon and Samuel Chukwueze not only blunted the Eagles attacking weapons, they restricted their goal attempts to few half chances.
Nigeria’s case was also not helped by a harsh red card to Alex Iweobi that reduced them to 10 men and few decisions that would have changed the course of the game had they gone Nigeria’s way. Despite the handicaps, the Super Eagles toiled hard but were unlucky not to have reaped any reward, especially, substitute Umaru Sadiq, who was a couple of inches away from an equalizer at the death.
Overall, coach Eguavoen’s inability to react early and counter the Tunisians’ tactics played into the hands of the Carthage Eagles
In the end, the Super Eagles only flattered to deceive in the Championship as far as raised expectations are concerned.
Burkina Faso beat 10-man Gabon on penalties to reach the quarter-finals at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon following a 1-1 draw.
Ismahila Ouedraogo netted to give the Stallions a 7-6 win in the shoot-out.
Gabon had Sidney Obissa sent off midway through the second half but grabbed an injury-time equaliser when Bruno Ecuele Manga’s header went in off Adama Guira.
Burkina Faso captain Bertrand Traore had missed a penalty before slotting in the opener in the 28th minute.
A mammoth shoot-out had seen Herve Koffi save from Gabon midfielder Guelor Kanga and Saidou Simpore immediately send his effort over the bar in the fourth round of penalties.
Abdoul Tapsoba had the chance to win it for Burkina Faso in sudden death after Yannis N’Gakoutou had blazed over, but Jean-Noel Amonome denied him.
However, substitute Ouedraogo kept his nerve after Gabon right-back Lloyd Palun rattled the crossbar to send the Burkinabe through.
It was at times a scrappy encounter in Limbe, marked by several bookings, but also a game which provided moments of quality and drama.
Burkina Faso had spurned several chances to make it 2-0 before the 90 minutes were up in Limbe, but Amonome saved well from Traore, Blati Toure and Guira.
And the Stallions ultimately paid in the 91st minute when Ecuele Manga’s header from Denis Bouanga’s cross deflected in for a dramatic equaliser.
Tapsoba had an extra-time goal ruled out for offside against Zakaria Sanogo, and Gabon keeper Amonome denied Tapsoba and Ouedraogo in the second added period to send the game to penalties.

By: Gabriel Nwanetanya

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European Clubs Distasteful, Disrespectful Over Afcon – Ikeme

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Former Nigeria goalkeeper Carl Ikeme has described the reaction of European clubs to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations as distasteful.
Ikeme, who made 10 appearances for the Super Eagles before his early retirement in 2018, weighed in on the issue of releasing players for the tournament during the European season and he described it as disrespectful to African football.
The former Wolverhampton Wanderers star believes the foremost African football competition is just as important as the European Championship and that players derive joy in representing their countries in a major event like Afcon.
“I don’t think it is professional, I think it is distasteful. I don’t think it helps the reputation of African football, I think it is disrespectful,” Ikeme told Tidesports source.
“Whether you are playing for England, Spain, Nigeria or Egypt, there is no difference. These players find pride in wearing their national team jerseys.
“When I was playing, it was the biggest honour I had in my career, playing for my national team and nothing can be compared to it.
“To think any player who is looking at Afcon as a burden is wrong because they love representing their countries, as you can see when Iheanacho scored Nigeria’s goal against Egypt, how Nigerians in Cameroon celebrated.

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