By Nduka Orjinmo

I was still dusting off the wooden seat at the media section of the Sharks stadium to sit down when I heard a roar of goal behind me.

Goal? I spurned around quickly to see Gomo Onduku of Sharks sprinting away in celebration and a quarter of his team in tow. I looked at my watch. One minute and a few seconds gone.

Not even time to untie my plantain chips, even the bench hadn’t been properly wiped.

So was Sharks going to make Kaduna United pay for the four goals defeat suffered in the hands of Kano Pillars?

Were they going to embarrass them like the five nil drubbing handed them by Gombe United at the Pantami?

I felt that such an early goal was a clear indication of how coach Obuh would want his side to respond.

But alas, that goal scored in the second minute lasted all of the ninety and aside a penalty missed by Bright Ejike, the other highlight would be that Sharks turned out in a new set of jerseys.

John Obuh opted for a 4-2-4 formation. It would be the second time in less than two weeks that I would be seeing a coach start a match in such a forward looking but strange set up.

Coach Stanley Eguma had also deployed the 4-2-4 set up in his side’s Champions’ League return leg against Sony Ela Nguema.

Kola Anubi and Hope Fiberesima were the two players in the middle of the pack for Sharks while Victor Ezeji, Bright Ejike, Felix Ogbuke and Gomo Onduku played upfront in a very fluid and inter-changing system.

Felix Ogbuke and Gomo Onduku were supposed to provide some cover down the flank, but both rarely ventured beyond the half way line.

For Kaduna United, coach Sale Latu went for the familiar 4-4-2 formation.

However, his side reverted to a 5-3-2 formation inadvertently due to the Sharks structure.

With Sharks playing a four pronged attack, it meant it was four on four at the back for Kaduna United with no man to spare.

This rarely happens in football, there is usually a ‘last man’ in the central defensive pair.

So for the first five minutes, Okorie Ikechukwu the defensive nidfielder for Kaduna United had no man to track.

He normally should be with the ‘No 8’ of the opposing team which would have been Victor Ezeji, but because both Sharks strikers were further up his defence and the balls were being worked through Ogbuke on the left and Gomo on the right, it left him with no job to do.

He cut an isolated figure in the middle and it was only a matter of time before he joined his central defenders by going in deep to pick up Victor Ezeji, thus letting Emma Ambrose sit alone as the spare man.

Whether this was a move by the coach or a search by Okorie to pick out his man, was the right thing to do at that point.

It relived the defence of the pressure in what was a confusing structure by Sharks and a very early goal to contend with.

But they had lost a man in midfield and Kola Anubi for Sharks was there to profit.

There was no pressure on him any time he had the ball and Kaduna United were playing with just one man in the middle against the two Sharks had.

The home side continued to pile all the pressure, had two thirds of the possession and created numerous chances.

Only the profligacy of their strikers in front of goal culminating in the penalty miss by Bright Ejike left the score at 1-0 by half time.

In between that time, I had succeeded in undoing the knot of the pack of plantain chips, taking a mental note of the manufacturer.
I would not fall twice.

The second half began in the same structure as the first. The display by his side in the first half must have emboldened Obuh, while the Kadunna coach stuck with his 5-3-2 structure.

Kaduna was still unable to get out of the blocks, Sharks still unable to add to their tally.

George Amakiri came on for Felix Ogbuke, the Kaduna side made two changes.

However, the tide changed with less than ten minutes to the end.

Peter Onoja came on for Kaduna United and was able to get a foot hold on the ball in a flagging Sharks midfield.

They launched a flurry of attacks and managed to hit the cross bar but in the end, Sharks held on for all three points but coach Obuh will wonder how his side did not get more than a goal.

The game was won and lost by what was done and what was not done by both coaches.

Sharks had lost by four goals in midweek, and so were under immense pressure to score.

Coach John Obuh opted for four strikers. That was what he did.

What coach Sale Latu of Kaduna United should have done would have been to ask his side to defend deep, while asking his strikers to stay far upfront.

This would have created a large space in the middle, isolating Hope Fiberesima and Kola Anubi.

I don’t quarrel with his decision to move his defensive midfielder to form a back five as I believe it would have been more difficult to play without the spare man at the back.

Left with three in the middle, he should have reshaped them into an upturned triangle.
The man at the tip would have marked Kola Anubi while one of the other two playing offensively would have kept pressure on Fiberesima when ever Sharks had the ball.

This would have left him with a man spare, which would have linked with the front two.

Seeing that Sharks were not covering the flanks properly when they did not have possession, his two full backs would have provide width down that area, forming five in the middle when they had the ball.

It would have been difficult for Sharks to have won.

But isn’t that why am here? It’s much difficult writing.

You can follow Nduka on Twitter through @Orjinmonduka


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