The whole world is just recovering from the shock when Marcos, the mystic pig picked the Super Eagles as semifinal candidates at the World Cup. It has been said that Marcos has so far not got any prediction wrong, but in choosing the Super eagles, it looks like it is about to lose its reputation. Here are five reasons:
NO ASSURANCE IN GOAL
All cannot be said to be well with the Super Eagles in the goalkeeping area. Ever since Vincent Enyeama retired and Carl Ikeme went down with leukemia, the hunt for a new goalkeeper has not been successful. Even though Ikechukwu Ezenwa put up strong performances in World Cup qualifying, it seems Coach Gernot Rohr is uncomfortable with the home-based goalkeeper and has reposed faith in Deportivo La Coruna’s reserve goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho.
Uzoho kept in all the Eagles warm-up games and has not been convincing. Though with a big frame, the youngster still lacks the confidence required at the big stage. The World cup is where teams put out their best legs, not experiment. The defence has shown how solid and resolute it can be, especially during the qualifying process, but the inexperience in the goalkeeping department might just do them in.
Our group D opponents would probably have noticed this and will be hoping to explore this palpable weakness.
LACK OF CREATIVE DEPTH, POOR PASSING AND SLOW SWITCH IN PLAY
Not much can be said of the Super Eagles' passing and play-switch ability. As witnessed in most of our warm-up matches, the team finds it difficult to string passes together and most times relies on long balls forward and running with the ball. Only Captain Mikel Obi can be said to be a good passer of the ball and most times, even he finds it difficult to dictate play especially, against sides with technical depth.
The lack of creativity in the midfield will make it very hard to link with the attackers, and even through the flank, which seems our best bet, the final ball still seems to be a very big problem.
The only hope of delivering the final ball lies in the runs of Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa and Alex Iwobi and if the opponents do well to mark them out, it means nothing can be expected from the team. With only one pattern of play, it is a problem for a team that has Argentina and Croatia to contend with. Marcus might be a mystic, but this is not volleyball; you need to pass to get goals.
INABILITY TO SCORE
Robert Lewandowski just got a postal card bearing his name and number; this is no mean feat; it is due to years of finding the net consecutively. Argentina are so confident of their strike force that they dropped the highest goalscorer in the Italian Serie A. The likes of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Antoinne Griezman can wreak havoc on any defence in the world, let alone Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who seem from another planet.
From recent performances, the Super Eagles attack doesn’t look potent enough. Star striker Odion Ighalo has not shown much promise and even Kelechi Iheanacho has not been really convincing. If the Eagles have not been able to make the most of lesser known defenders they have faced thus far, not much should be expected from them when they face the likes of Dejan Lovren, Nicholas Otamendi and Javier Mascherano. No team succeeds in the game of football without goals.
The Super eagles do not have a talisman. There is a lot of individuality in the squad that no one man can be said to be a leader. "We don’t know much about the Nigerian team," was the word of Lionel Messi when quizzed about their Group D opponents. This shows the level and depth of our players, compared to the other teams. Mikel seems the only true leader in the team but everyone knows he is no longer at the peak and is on holidays in most games. The individuality of players like Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, and Ahmed Musa can really help the team but when the occasion calls, there is really no go-to person to take responsibility and dictate the pace and tempo of a game.
There is no standout star in the team. While football is a collective sport, individuals sometimes carry the team on their shoulders, a feature lacking in our team. Even the collective effort is missing!
DISORGANISATION AND LACK OF COHESION
The current setup of the Super Eagles ahead of the World cup is not looking good. Most of the players play without a script or knowledge of what to do next. In the game of football, it is plain to see teams play to a particular pattern. Top teams like Brazil, Spain, and Germany all have a style of play and every player in the team understands at least the basics of this style but this is clearly missing in the Super eagles. There is no link and rhythm in the style of play, as evident in the friendlies and qualifiers. The team does not seem to play with each other, there is a lack of basic understanding and cohesion in this team.
This disorganisation can be an advantage though, as it can help disorganize other teams too, as observed by Argentine defender Javier Mascherano. Organisation and cohesion can take even the least talented team far enough, a la the Greek team of Euro 2004, and lack of it can be the bete noire of the most talented team.