The
inquest did not even start when the Super Eagles lost 3-2 at home to Congo
Kinshasha.
As
soon as the visitors went 2-1 up, social media, especially twitter almost
crashed as Nigerians began to ask questions as to why the team was losing.
Things
didn’t get better as Nigeria went 3-1 down before pulling a goal back through
Gbolahan Salami.
But
is there one particular reason why Nigeria lost? Or are there a couple of them?
NFF crisis
Quite
a lot of people have said the crisis within the ranks of the Nigeria Football
Federation caused the loss. A lot were quick to blame Ambassador Chris Giwa, one
of the factional leaders of the Nigerian football crisis and a few fingered
Aminu Maigari, the outgoing NFF president.
But
could the crisis have caused the loss? Some would argue that the crisis did not
invite the players to camp, neither did it cause Onazi to stick his leg out for
that penalty.
But
like, President General of the Nigeria Football and other sports supporters
club, Rafiu Ladipo put it to naijafootball247.com, “A house divided cannot
stand.”
The
players would have been distracted, so were the coaches too.
The
NFF crisis could not have been what caused the defeat but it certainly was part
of it.
Stephen Keshi’s
contract
The
coach of the team, Stephen Keshi had been in a contractual dispute with the NFF
since the World Cup ended in July and there had been no head way even until
now.
“As
a show of patriotism” he decided to handle the Eagles against Congo and South
Africa pending when his contract is formalized but how focused was he in the
week before the game?
Then
again, players both at international and club level want to be convinced on the
long term future of their gaffers.
If
Keshi had been settled a month or two ago, would the result have been
different? Would the play have been different? Certainly there is no clear cut
answer to that.
Quality of squad
laid out
Nigerians
have never agreed fully with any coach of the Super Eagles as regards team
selection and with Keshi it hasn’t been different.
Nigerians
wanted Ike Uche back in the squad after the World Cup. They also wanted Brown
Ideye.
They
didn’t want the ELkanemi goalkeeper, Obiazor in the team as replacement for
Enyeama but any other goalkeeper asides the one picked by the coaches.
For
the starting line up, they wanted Sone Aluko and Nosa Igiebor in it, but asides
the wishes of Nigerians, the quality of the squad laid out on the day was suspect.
Agreed
that coaches always have their ways in who they invite and who they play
depending on how they want to shape their team and how they want their charges
to play, but Oduamadi has hardly ever impressed in the Eagles.
Uche
Nwofor also looked lost upfront while it seems Gbolahan Salami may have done
better if he started.
Emmanuel
Emenike, according to a story on www.colinudoh.com
was dropped from the starting lineup because he turned up very late to camp and
a coach who disciplines his players should not be hounded for it.
The
defense was poor. Between Oboabona, Omeruo and Echiejile, there was definitely
something wrong with a lot of unforced errors (as tennis commentators would
say).
The
defenders didn’t mark right, and when they had the ball, they either didn’t see
the midfielders or they defied the most basic of football tactics by just
booting the ball up to the front men who were more often than not outjumped by
the bigger Congolese defenders.
Ogenyi Onazi,
Mikel and Azeez
Now,
as much Ogenyi Onazi has been the Super Eagles most loved and most hardworking player
in the Keshi era, there is something obviously wrong with his game.
He
lunges out wild tackles and acts on the pitch like a drunken college freshman
on a shooting spree with a stolen hand gun.
One
of such his actions caused Nigeria a penalty when the team was already 2-1
down.
Mikel
Obi, many believe should be the team leader but is always anonymous when they
most need him.
The
Super Eagles playing for the first time in over a decade without Vincent
Enyeama and Joseph Yobo needed a leader and Mikel did not turn up.
Underrating the Congo
Austin
Ejide was quoted in an interview as saying the Eagles underrated Congo and maybe
that was a factor.
It’s
a known fact that as soon as you get onto the pitch underrating an opponent it
is very difficult to adjust while the game is on.
Did
Nigeria underrate their opponent? It did seem so.
The white witch
doctor
The
White Witch doctor as Claude LeRoy is called has always been a problem to the
Super Eagles.
Most
times he had played against Nigeria he has come out unscathed and the records
are there to show.
In
1988, he was head coach of Cameroon when they played against the Eagles twice
in the AFCON held in morocco.
In
the group stage, the game ended 0-0 while in the final Cameroon won 1-0.
In
1992, he was manager of Senegal when they lost 2-1 to the Super Eagles, the
only time a side coached by him had lost to a Nigerian side.

Stephen Keshi and Claude LeRoy exchange
 pleasantries before the game

Incidentally,
current Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi scored the winning goal in that
encounter.
In
2008, while coach of Ghana’s Black Stars, they eliminated Nigeria in the
quarter finals of the AFCON.
So
maybe he has Nigeria’s number, or maybe he got lucky once again.
Moving on
It’s
a six game qualifying series and with one loss, unfortunately at home, the
Eagles still have enough time to pick up the pieces.
A
game played can never be replayed and the team must now look ahead to the
crunch tie against the Bafana Bafana.
The
blame time should be over and the time to map out strategies to ensure these
factors that may have caused the Congo loss don’t show up again is now.
The
Super Eagles can qualify for AFCON 2015 if the right things are done.

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