Foremost sports analyst, Frank Idemudia Alapa, prior to Nigeria’s game against Ghana on Tuesday, said the real problem with the Super Eagles was the static game-plan of Coach Augustine Eguavoen.
Alapa, GM of ReachFM Owerri, Imo State, predicted that if Eagles did not adopt a different style, they would not smell the World Cup in Quatar.
According to him after the first game in Ghana, “Eguavoen did not make a mistake. That is the way he plays. That is his mindset. Follow him from 2006 Nations’ Cup, it is the same way: four defenders, four midfielders, and of course, he believes that Nigeria must play with wingers: two attackers, one behind the other, which is the same way we played in 1994 under Clement Westerhof. This is what Eguavon has brought back.
“Get a box-to-box midfielder. That is how we played—the Ghanaians dominated the midfield. Osimhen was isolated upfront, and the so-called wingers, who he relied so much on, who are just linear, get the ball, run, see if you can dribble one or two players, were ineffective because they were cut out by a moderately intelligent coach who flooded the midfield and ensured that the fullbacks starved these guys of ball.
“That is the way he plays. He doesn’t know any other way. He is using old school style: 1994 style. That is where the basis of most of his football tactics comes from. It doesn’t work that way anymore. Who plays wingers anymore?
“Read Pep Guardiola, Thomas Tuchel, Klop. The so-called wingers have been converted to outside strikers: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi.
Thierry Henry was a traditional winger but was converted. Wingers have now become inverted.
“This kind of football is exciting—the African physicality always comes to play. You run, dribble and try to cross in, and fortunately, a very hard Osimhen would be able to convert it using his attribute.
“But how long do we continue with this? A moderately intelligent coach will cut out the supplies to the wings. Such a coach would not allow you to create anything.
“There was no creativity in Super Eagles’ game in the first leg. They could not hold on to the ball. There were no format and tactical distribution of the ball. I’m worried that his colleagues, JJ Okacha and Daniel Amokachi, who played into the modern era, are still not addressing this. They try to be nice to him. This is wrong.
“Nigeria is blessed with a collection of players that are above average. Stop using the 28 year ago tactics. The last time the 4-4-2 formation was used was Alex Ferguson and it went away with him. Nobody plays that style anymore. Watch your football philosophy. Are you counter-attacking? Who is your midfield lynch-pin?
“Where is the creativity in the midfield? Where is the support for the striker? Wing plays can be easily cut out. The 1994 style is exciting, but who plays like that anymore? Unless we start thinking about a football ideology, we won’t go anywhere. We simply will continue to have emotional blackmail that he likes me and he doesn’t like me. It won’t work. Football has gone beyond this.”