By Ediale Kingsley
Things I hope you saw in the friendly game against Czech:
— John Ogu walks to the Referee at end of the game to wonder why he didn’t add stoppage time. He truly was unhappy the game ended against TeamNigeria.
— Rohr took a drastic approach of sending in Iheanacho, Nwankwo, and Elderson. When the game repeatedly showed how difficult a task it would be for Mikel, Moses, and Idowu to make the simple weave of the ball into the back of the net. Rohr was also unhappy the game ended against the S/Eagles.
— Upon the final whistle, Rohr showed a displeased figure. He wore a sad look. He intended to win this friendly.
— Rohr used his first 11 today. He had his final game. His final 23 man list. His W. Ndidi was fit and ready. He used his first choice goalkeeper. He used his Joker the way he planned using him.
His joker, Iheanachor, however, couldn’t save the day as well.
…All the strategies didn’t work.
So you get the drift? My point is this:
Today’s match wasn’t the regular practice games or regular rehearsal s. It was the DRESS REHEARSAL.
Those who are theater practitioners know how important the dress rehearsal is. As a drama director, back in the days, I always ensured the dress rehearsal was 200% perfect. Tonight it wasn’t.
Should we worry? yes.
Should we be very worried? no.
There’s that little excuse. Tiny little bit of an excuse. That they didn’t play on a perfect pitch as against the quality of the real stage. And the balls, funny enough, weren’t in good shape. Then there was the rain to distract.
So we can’t judge this match to be a 100% dress rehearsal. But we saw just enough reasons to be worried.
Pre-match, I had a Facebook post where I said, ‘Ighalo should score in this game, otherwise what’s the point?’. Calling Ighalo out is because he is the leader of the forwards we are shipping to Russia.
By extension, I am calling out the attacking tactics of the squad. I am calling out the entire attacking structure. Something isn’t right about it.
Then there is a Victor Moses we owe too much. And he knows.
We owe him worship. He is the new Mikel Obi. The new Kanu Nwankwo. I mean this in a different way. By these metaphors I mean he is the new Postal Boy of the Super Eagles.
And there’s no denying that fact. Or who else played on the same pitch with Leo Messi last season? Who among the crop plays for a level B club side? (Please don’t say Arsenal is Level B and don’t mention Iwobi).
Moses is talented. And plays actively as a first team player for one of the best clubs out there. He is large.
And so, when he comes to play among other Super Eagle players, at the national side, He knows he is the greatest among them (by current status, so please don’t quote Mikel is a more achiever here, we are talking about the moment).
So he allows it get to his head, but in a bad way…
In Chelsea, Victor Moses wants to be Victor the Moses.
But in the National team, he wants to be Victor the Hazard.
He wants to be Eden Hazard in the Super Eagles. And we are to be blamed for that.
— Moses may be the star boy of our side. Only because our side has no ‘WizKid’, all we have are ‘Small Doctors’ and ‘Skales’.
— Moses is good. But imagine he plays beside an Okocha (the Wizkid).
— We have Okochas in their crude zones, at grassroots. But we don’t like going to discover talents. We like to go pick them abroad, when their first choice nation reject them.
We keep getting it wrong when we boldly tell ourselves lies that these are the best players we can offer. Truth is, these are the best players we can assemble. Certainly not the best we can offer. If we consciously do the right things, we will have the better crop of players to pick from.
It’s a shame that we do not have a Natural Eden Hazard in the team. It’s quite shameful that what we have is a Hazard wannabe. If we have a natural Okocha, Moses will be Victor.
And it will be a great deal. In the history of the World Cup, only 8 nations have lifted the trophy.
Why are we not learning from them?
— Germany went to the Confederation cup with a squad that looked like their B-team. They didn’t use their Moses and Mikel. And we thought they were mad, until they won it. Now for good reasons they are dropping a player we all thought should be their postal boy – Leroy Sane.
— Brazil builds his squad around young talents. In a time there was experienced Marcelo and co, Neymar was the captain of the squad. The other day, I was quite surprised to see Gabriel Jesus wearing the Captain’s band, where Marcelo, Thiago Silva and other senior boys dominated.
— And I realized the same thing happened in Argentina, where there was a Mascherano, Messi was and is still Captain.
A team that ought to have the Nwakali brothers, we have substituted them for jokers. And they, Super Eagles apologists, will tell you ‘there time will come’. So Gabriel Jesus and Co taking their times and shines now are wrong?
Mitchell Obi once told me in his office, and I understand now. He said ‘youths play football better’.
Brown Ideye wasn’t even offer a chance. Home-based were not offered a chance. We didn’t commit to this project, the way we should. We won the World Cup ticket with a good plan. Then we proceeded to use that same plan and template for the World Cup.
And so, we have a peculiar problem. All because good plan doesn’t win the World Cup. Great plans do.
We placed experience above current forms. We opt for exposure over talent. And what we have at hand shouldn’t really be a surprise.
Edafe Eseoghene noted that for the first time, in our five-time participation, in the world cup. We do not have sponsorship slash financial issues. He states this is the first time we may be having tactics issue.
My postulations in summary are:
— As fabulous as a Victor Moses is. We have a gap in the squad that he shouldn’t be the one to fill.
— Wilfred Ndidi, Mikel Obi, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi are good players but none of them play like Eden Hazard, Okocha, Messi, Modric. And if you do not have these fabulous 10s, it’s the fabulous 9s you put in trouble. I pitied Ighalo in the match against Czech.
— Kelechi Nwakali, Usman Mohammed and co should have been on this list. Against the four ‘wrong’ players we took (Onazi, Echejile, Joel, Musa).
— Our coaching staff must find a cool way to manage the excesses of Victor Moses.
— All things being equal, our success is largely depending on Moses and Mikel.
So we are here. What can we do to manage the situation?
— Let’s make Simi the Joker. The English media has done much exposure to Iheanachor.
— Besides we need Iheanachor starting the games. He is a better set piece taker than Moses.
— So let’s pair Iheanachor and Ighalo upfront.
— And put Mikel Obi just behind them.
— Iwobi and Moses pace could be delicious at the flanks. Let’s put Ndidi in the middle of that 3man midfield. We may not have Modric, Hazard or Okocha but we have a rock in there. That can give the Modric’s of this world a tough time. Our middle spine is hereby toughened a Mikel upfront and Ndidi deeper.
— Idowu is my preferred choice at BL. He’s quick. He needs more instructions as to how he treats his final release when he dashes up front. He did it well against Argentina but he was poor against Czech.
— Abdullahi is fasting. The good thing is I believe Tyrone is equally fantastic on that flank.
— Troost and Balogun…well they have our trusts already as the full backs.
This formation, selection, and strategy allow Iwobi and Moses to drive into the box 18 when they attack. Upon good movement management, Ighalo and Iheanachor can always take some defenders out of the way.
When our left backs and right backs are upfront Iwobi and Moses can fall to midfield respectively. This allows for massive control of attack and possession.
We can’t possibly have a mindset of going to the World Cup not to win it. I really don’t understand why we won’t plan to go winning the World Cup in Russia. Everything starts with the mindset. If we are not going to win the World Cup in Russia, then what’s the plan?
To waste funds? Certainly not.
So if it’s only for participation and preparation for Qatar 22. Then we have started on a wrong foot by not taking the Nwakali brothers and other youngsters that show promise and talent. I was with Victor Aghali, in his house recently. I wish he gave me permission to air his story. But that’s a story for another day.
Good luck Super Eagles, God bless Nigeria.
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