Nigeria played her first game against Iran which ended in a boring goalless draw. A pundit went on to tag the game as the most boring game of the tournament so far and a bad advertisement for African football, and in a group that has Edin Dzeko’s Bosnia Herzegovina and four time balon d’or winner Lionel Messi’s Argentina, getting maximum points against a Carlos Quieroz led Iran seemed like the only opportunity the African champions of will have to make it out of the group.
However, it has been a tournament of upsets so far as World and European champions, Spain crashed out in the group stages after their first two games. A whitewash against the Netherlands and a two nil defeat in the hands of Alexis Sanchez’s Chile. Spain is even yet to score a goal from open play interestingly. Also, the three lions of England are without a single point after their first two games and have been eliminated from the competition. Nigeria will be hoping for that sort of upset when they file out against Bosnia in the next game and also Argentina in the last game of the group.
Looking at the game against Iran and you just must be confused at Nigeria’s style of play, that is if there was any at all. The Super Eagles looked clueless on how to go about the business of attacking Iran, John Obi Mikel who ended up winning the man of the match award by fifa much to the surprise of many, looked tired and demoralized, playing and passing the ball at a walking pace.
Emmanuel Emenike looked a child missing his parents upfront as he seemed to have completely been forgotten by the midfielders. Ramon Azeez whom we gather made the team because of his brilliance in training ahead of Sunday Mba and a couple of other experienced guys went on to show on the night that indeed ‘Form is temporal, Class is permanent’, but looking at it critically, a large portion of the blame should go to Stephen Keshi and his technical crew because Ramon Azeez is more of a defensive midfielder than attacking. He plays a deeper role in midfield for his Spanish club Almeria.
And that brings me to Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha’s comments on Keshi. Okocha went on to question Keshi’s tactics, substitutions and technical approach approach, he questioned some of Keshi’s decisions before and during the game, I couldn’t agree less with him. Keshi also hasn’t been mute, he went on to blame Osazie Odemwingie who so many think was even more effective in the last 10 minutes of the game when he came on, saying he didn’t play to instruction, what ever the instruction was, we do not know. Keshi also went on to say he is not God and that he can only try everything humanly possible against Bosnia but can’t assure Nigerians of all three points in that game.
With a key player in the heart of defense Godfrey Oboabona out to injury, Nigerians have everything to worry about coming up against the goal hungry attacking pair of Dzeko and Ibisevic. I expect to see a more determined side against Bosnia. Sometimes, the better your opposition, the better your performance. I expect Osaze Odemwingie to start ahead of Ahmed Musa, I expect Ramon Azeez and Ogenyi Onazi to play behind John Obi Mikel since he is the most creative of all our midfielders at the world cup, how sad. I don’t want to drag us into the Ik Uche saga but I think we miss him so much in the team.
The defense got an above average rating in the last game in my head, but hey, it was Iran who didn’t even really attack, but when they did, the defense was up to it. I think Joseph Yobo’s experience will be key in the game against Bosnia and so I expect him to start in that game. And above all, I pray for all three points.
Thanks for reading.