As the Super Eagles file out to tackle the Strakkamir Okkar of Iceland at the Volgograd Arena, the players must have it at the back of their mind that Nigerians expect nothing less than victory from the must-win-match.
It is against this backdrop that we expect the Mikel Obi-captained squad to play the game of their lives to grab the three points at stake that would likely prolong Nigeria’s campaign at the Coupe de Mundial.
Tide sports source reports that Nigeria currently sits at the bottom of Group D standings with zero points, while the Vatreni of Croatia tops the table with three points followed by Albiceleste of Argentina and Strakkamir Okkar with 0ne point each.
With the unsavoury scenario staring the team in the face, the Super Eagles would have to raise the level of their game against their rugged Icelandic opponents who look poised to take the wind out of the sails of the Super Eagles.
Mikel and his colleagues should know that if Nigeria should fail to defeat Iceland in the crucial showdown at Volgograd, their names would go down into the hall of infamy in the annals of Nigerian football; hence the need for them to go excel.
By now Coach Gernot Rohr must have reviewed the video recordings of the team’s 2-0 loss to Croatia, and work very hard to avert mistakes made in that match, and to perfect the strategy and tactics needed to battle the Strakkamir Okkar.
Judging from the robust performance they put up against the Albiceleste in the 1-1 draw, the Strakkammir Okkar would likely adopt the ultra-defensive tactics they used to frustrate Argentina in their opening match.
With this in mind, we expect Rohr to come up with the right team selection to articulate his strategy and tactics for the match against the Northern European team.
The Super Eagles must play as a functional coherent team in the field and guard against conceding needless free kicks around our 18 yard box area, which Gylfi Sigurdsson, their dead ball specialist could exploit to punish Nigeria.
In the defence area, we expect Troost Balogun, Troost Ekong, Brian Idowu and Abdullahi Shehu must be vigilant to ward off lightning counter attacks from the Strakkamir Okkar who would strive to catch our defence off-guard.
We expect to see a more vibrant display from the Super Eagles in the midfield area, anchored by Mikel in the holding role alongside John Ogu/Wilfred Ndidi, while Oghenekaro Etebo should be allowed to rove.
There was no creative play from the Super Eagles in their opening match against the Vatreni, which denied Ighalo et al the defence splitting passes he and other attacking midfielders like Victor Moses and Alex Iwobi could have exploited.
Our strikers, either Odion Ighalo, Simeon Nwankwo or Kelechi Nwankwo must be clinical in front of the goalmouth of the miserly defence of the Strakkamir Okkar, while the midfielders should be highly mobile and compact to contain forays from their opponents.
Ideally, we would love to have Rohr deploy a two man strike force against Iceland, but the coach is actually one man at the helm to decide team tactics.
But Rohr must strive to get the team’s architecture right this time around, having studied earlier tapes of the friendly matches played by Iceland against Ghana in that 2-2 draw and the way they lined up against Argentina.
Before the team jetted out from their Essenteki” base on Wednesday for Volgograd, Rohr told the media that he was already aware of the various suggestions being thrown at him, on how the Eagles should play against Iceland.
“We have watched the game against Croatia to see our mistakes so that we can correct them.
“Our match on Friday will be a tough game and we have to be at our best and be more professional with our defending, especially from set-pieces.
“We have to be fully focused and not lose concentration all through the game. I believe with hard work we can get a good result.
“In truth, there is no need to add to the pressure we have now. More pressure on the team will not necessarily translate to better result,”the German technical adviser said.
In the same vein, Mikel also vowed to play any role that will be assigned to him to help the Eagles soar over the hard fighting Icelandic team.
“I am ready to play in any position the coach wants me to play. I am comfortable with either a defensive or offensive midfield role.
“The most important thing is the team and nothing else,” said the former Chelsea FC of England midfielder.
Siasia In No Rush To Appeal Life Ban
Former Nigeria coach, Samson Siasia is not in a rush to appeal against a decision by FIFA to ban him for life from all football-related activities.
Football’s world governing body handed Siasia, who managed the Super Eagles between 2010-2011 and for a spell in 2016, the ban on Friday for agreeing to “receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches.”
But the 52-year-old, who has also managed his country at U-20 and U-23 level, has said that he will fight to clear his name.
“I’ve not done anything wrong and will continue to fight to clear my name,” he told Tidesports source.
“Everything is now in the hands of my legal team.”
The ban is expected to be served at both national and international level. In addition, a fine in the amount of CHF 50,000 (US$50,000) was also imposed on Mr Siasia.
An associate of Siasia, Prince Opukiri Jones-Ere says his legal representatives are studying the FIFA ruling and will issue a statement in a few days.
“The coach was unable to address the press as planned on Saturdday because he’s undergoing a lot of stress,” Jones-Ere said.
“His lawyers are studying the ruling and will make an official statement in a few days.”
A former international, Siasia won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria and played in their maiden World Cup appearance later that same year. He played over 50 times for his country while scoring 16 goals.
As a coach he led his country’s Under-20 and U23s to continental success in 2005 and 2015 respectively. He also guided the U-20s to a runner-up finish at the 2005 World Youth Championship in the Netherlands.
Siasia is the most decorated African football coach at the Olympics, winning silver at the Beijing Games in 2008 and bronze at the 2016 Games in Rio.
Lawmaker Tasks Youth On Sporting Activities
The lawmaker representing Port Harcourt Constituency III, in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Azeru Opara has called on the youth in his constituency to engage themselves in sporting activities and stop social vices.
Hon. Opara, who is also the sponsor of the tournament noted that sport is one thing that exposes people to limelight in any society.
The lawmaker who was represented by his Special Assistant, Yusuf Momoh made the called at the weekend, during the opening ceremony of Diobu Youth Football Association Tournament, at St. Andrews Primary School, Mile One Diobu, Port Harcourt.
“Stop social vices and involve yourself in sporting activities. There are a lot of benefits in sports” Hon Opara said.
He commended the coordinator of the competition Junior Obianime, for putting the tournament together.
Hon Opara, further pledged to not fail the people of his constituency as they voted for him, saying that this is part of his electioneering campaign promises.
Also speaking the coordinator of the competition Junior Obianime stated that the competition is about bringing the youth of the area together through football tournaments, adding that sports, mostly football is one event that brings peace among the youth.
According to him, 16 teams registered for the tournament, as winner of the tournament will go home with the sum of N200, 000, while second and third place will walk away with N100,000 and N50,000 respectively.
Obiani used the medium to thank the sponsor of the competition Hon. Opara, for keeping to his electioneering campaign promises.
The opening match was between Mile one market FC and St. Thomas FC which ended 3-1 in favour of St. Thomas in a spot kick after regulation time.
CAF CL: Asante Kotoko Fires Warning At Kano Pillars
Asante Kotoko of Ghana’s Captain Felix Annan said his side are confident of beating Kano Pillars in the return leg of the 2019/2020 CAF champions league first preliminary stage round.
Both side will meet for the second clash this Friday in Ghana, after the first meeting ended 2-3 in favor of the Sai Masu Gida
However, speaking ahead of the decider which will hold in Kumasi, Annan said they now understand how Kano Pillars are set up to play and believed that they are capable of completing the job in front of their home fans.
“It is always difficult playing away from home in the champions league but to score 2 goals is a plus and it gives us much confidence going into the second leg in Kumasi.”
“We are very confident because of our play and knowing how they (Kano pillars) play now. So with our fans, we believe we will surely beat them. We now know their strength and weakness so we will work on that.” Annan said.
Kano Pillars must avoid defeat in Kumasi if they are to go through to the next round of the elite competition
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