AFCON 2021: Eguaveon, Eagles  Out, Its Lessons On My Lips

By Victor Enyinnaya on January 24, 2022

Views: 427

As the ongoing Africa’s flagship football summit continues in Cameroun, we have seen how teams are faring. We have also seen how goals are being scored, fluke and textbook.

Head or tail we can also say so far the level of competition amongst countries gamely.

It is also instructive to note that fans and pundits have seen the strengths and weaknesses of super teams in Africa and the not too football playing countries. I will leave to you dear readers to look at how the players our stars have fared so far.

Let me leave to the readers of this online portal to determine whether it is yet a time to sing halleluiah or not if this age old football summit in African continent has truly arrived or still struggling to.  For yours truly in Sports, we are still struggling to get there though it is still earlier in the day to come to total conclusion as the competition is still in progress.

There is still enough room for total and comprehensive improvement from the past competitions or editions. However, our focus the Super Eagles are out the tournament. We can vividly say also that SUPER Eagles lost the round of 16 game against Tunisia in the first half.

Again either that the boys took their last opponents for granted or that it was how it was destined to go. Nigeria has to go back to the drawing board as there are fresh fears now in our football polity. The sudden exit would remain shocking to the team for sometime. The boys could not considerate on their five star performance in the group stage.

There are fantastic boys in this line up however, the planning and exection of this round of 16 was shaky. Eguaveon and his men had no answer to the antics of the Tunisians and the Northern Africans tactical displine helped them to win the game they came into with lots of respect for Nigerians.Their eventual winning goal that came as surprise to them help in no smaller measure to instill confidence in them against the Eagles.

The other thing that worked against the Super Eagles was the red card the referee flashed on Alex Iwobi at a time he was trying to harass the Tunisia defence and entire team. Let me point out here that this team has already created history being the first in Nigerian set of Eagles to be booted out the round of 16 after a spectacular outing in the in group games since the country started taking part in it. With Nigeria out of out of this year’s tournament, the competitiveness of the showpiece would be drastically  reduced  and eyes are on the likes of egypt, cameroun, Senegal  etc to roam. Africa Cup of Nations football festival has come of age and nothing, absolutely nothing would withheld it from living up to it’s billing and rating around the World by football analysts, pundits, fans and other experts closely following Africa’s prime football biannual gathering.

Whether NFF will learn anything from this early exit of Nigeria’s flagship team would come to the fore in days to come. Already Portuguese’s Vitor Jose Peseiro a lowly rated foreign coach is imported and if arrangement goes as planned will take over immediately as Egueaveon’s tenure of care taking is over. No more, no less.

As I kept saying short after that defeat by the Super Eagles against her Pharaohs’ of Egypt counterpart that was not yet enough to say uhuru yet despite what Nigerians are saying that Eguaveon has come stay. With this shocking early exit, NFF has a lot in its hands to do in order to win back confidence of the boys espcially with 2022 World Cup qualifier pair against Ghana another nightmare for Nigeria and only a team with full backing of NFF coupled with who leads the team as her head of technical crew.

There are lots of work to be done on this whose confidence level would have hit high heaven if it has advanced further in the Championship.  Analysts have assessed the performance of the Eagles differently and there are many who rated Simon, Awoniyi and Aribo more than Kelechi the sheer brilliance of these young but experienced players helped to compound the woes of the ever confident Egyptians for instance. Super Eagles would do more in future championship if whoever Amaju Pinnick would give the nod to grab the headship coach of the team who will help tremendously to instruct or get player (s) that has/have abilities to effectively shield the ball whenever the chips are down.

Such character (s) help/ helps a lot. To be honest with you despite our unexpected exit from the ongoing AFCON tournament, truth is that we have started to see more mobile Eagles team/ players that even block so stoutly too  which is gradually coming up and needed to be sustained. You saw that textbook of a goal by Ekong against Guinea Bissau boys that did give some superior power to hunger, determination, focused and concretrated team for future if the NFF would take a bull by the horn having at the back of their minds that Nigerian team need lots of pyschologist to do good job on them as Eagles team if we hope to come over Ghana. 

My take here is though I may be wrong but it is what I believe that Austin Egueaveon’s finest hour came against Egypt and he did not waste time to grab same with his two hands, football as an irony you saw how Tunisia that did not do well during the group stage got a pound of flesh from Nigeria that kept clean slate went into the better forgotten round of 16 with 100 percent. It is the game of football where addition most times don’t add up right.

It will be safe to say that the fittest carried the day. I still maintain my earlier stand that it is still too early in the day to say hand over the team to Egu. However it's equally true that many of the foreign coaches we have hired are not better than some of their Nigerian counterparts. I must confess even to high heaven that I have some good measure of respect for our coaches who played professionally in Europe especially the sets of 1994, 1996 to say it mildly, the lads effective coalesce and ruggedness in group games failed them against Tunisia team that are not better even when Eagles was down by none man, the defence in short, the entire team soaked away the pressure mounted on the team. The continent’s football and the strategic discipline of the Europeans game impacted handsomely despite….. Most of us knew Egu during his playing days and his total way and manner of checking effectively his opponents from the right flak of the Eagles defence then which we saw coming up before these North Africans cut it short..

We also saw how he effectively and instructively too choked the game for Mo Sallah that further brings to mind  how the team would have been if it has stayed beyond this stage. That accord was Concordia it was not only appreciated but it paid off handsomely too, note that this write up is also reviewing the game as it concerned the Super Eagles short stay in the football summit.

Again one thing remains certain in Nigerian games so far and that is the typical Nigerian aggression against her opponents. My stand is if the team attack effectively plays as strong as they did against Egypt in short in the group stage in all their matches, made Tunisia to have lots of respect for the Nigerians in the opening minutes and even jittery worst was the early goal failed to come. Eagles must concentrate and avoid totally distractions in future engagement. You see, that is the pivot that our football growth and development revolves around most time to the extent we took obviously things that ought to be over looked and forward seriously and on such process our football would suffer for such.

We all knew what made very great hand and highly disciplined Sylvanus Okpala to fell out of favour with the powers that be in NFF. All pleas to let go fell on deaf ears as if NFF belongs to such people. I  won’t name names that  fraustrated the former international and was why Okpala was kept out of the coaching crew of the team till date, instead  and sadly too half baked ones that are their brothers and bribe takers are employed and burse many of them are in the present interim arrangement Eguavenon is heading.  Without much ado another brilliant indigenous coach is Emmanuel Amuneke, we saw the opposition from Amajau Pinnick and his deadly gang when Sports Minister Sunday Dare suggested him to be hired when Rohr left.  And if not for the politics that led to the removal of Sylvanus Okpala after the Nations Cup Nigeria in 2013 who knows.

We can tell that when late Stephen Keshi realised what he was missing in Okpala's absence and publicly begged that he be brought back to the team. That didn't happen and the performance of Eagles dropped so badly that Keshi was disengaged thereafter. All others are now sad history. Truth is that there is no calculation of if this and if that in this group game because Egu got it right against Egypt in the first. One prays the great time continues and fetch us good, great tidings there after. As we pray keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best for the Eagles, it is too early to start the campaign for Austin Eguaveon must be made the Super Eagles subtractive coach. I won’t be drawn into that or the debate whether he has the capacity to do it or not. Never, I won’t.

Focus must be on the task ahead, Cameroon 2021 Nations Cup. No more, no less! One would only urge numerous readers of this page and the larger newspaper to continue their faithfulness to the portal, We appreciate you most. Keep shooting hard till next week as the struggle continues!!

Source Daily Sports

Posted January 24, 2022


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