9 June 2012

Nigeria/Malawi: World Cup 2014 - Country Faces Tough Malawi Test

Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images-Stanbic
Chiukepo Msowoya of Malawi and Zuela of Angola during the Africa Cup of Nations match between Angola and Malawi from the Cidade Universitaria Stadium on January 14, 2010 in Luanda, Angola.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will tomorrow take on the flames of Malawi in the second game of the 2014 World Cup qualifier. Nigeria last weekend laboured to a lone goal victory against Namibia. John Utaka returned to the Eagles' line up after an impressive season with Montpellier while Victor Moses made his second appearance for the Eagles.

Many fans who were expecting a feast of goals were disappointed as the Namibians parked a bus in front of goal and frustrated the Eagles. Vincent Enyeama who captained the side in place of injured Joseph Yobo may have well been reading a newspaper as the Namibians offered nothing in attack.

One positive that can be taken from the game was that the Super Eagles created a lot of chances but the strikers of the night Victor Moses and John Utaka left their shooting boots at home and were poor in front of goal. But most fans will be happy at the number of chances created and if the strikers had been more clinical it would have been a goal feast.

Before the game, the fans in the stadium honoured Yekini. Even the players had shirts on before the game honouring Yekini and an attacker in the mould of Yekini is needed at the Super Eagles right now. Victor Moses offered something different in the attack, his pace and ability to take on defenders will come in handy when he blends in finally.

Ik Uche has shown times without number that he may be less prolific in club football compared to all the Nigerian strikers playing in Europe but when it comes to the national team he is the most consistent striker and has delivered times without number when called upon. Obiora Nwankwo and Ejike Uzoenyi both put on some impressive displays in the midfield and Keshi will be happy with their performances against Namibia.

With three points in the bag Nigeria will face a tough trip away to Malawi which played a goalless draw against Kenya in the first Leg. Nigeria is on top of the group with three points and will be looking on to consolidate on their lead by picking all three points.

The Super Eagles has a poor away record and seem to struggle on away games. In the Nations Cup qualifiers last year, Nigeria struggled against lowly Madagascar and nearly lost the game. Joseph Yobo saved the Eagles blushes by scoring late in the game. They also lost against Guinea away. They need to break their away jinx in Blantyre against Malawi.

They need to overcome that mental strength of struggling away and the strikers of the night Victor Moses and Ik Uche will need to take their chances when they get them.

Meanwhile, Malawi is on a poor run of form having not won in four consecutive games but the coach has insisted even though they have not won their last four games he has the perfect strategy to beat Nigeria. He said, "We have a special strategy for Nigeria. Let them come. We are very ready for them. The fact that we have not won in four games is no cause for worry.

We have enough days in training to work on this. Let them come and see what we have to offer them. They cannot talk of beating us at home when they were struggling at home against Namibia. This is a totally different battle." He also added that: "I don't care if Nigeria carries their whole contingent of stars to Blantye but one thing they should not expect when they come home is any mercy.

Football dynamics have changed and I would only be concerned if they were to play with 20 players but as long as it will be only 11 then I can promise them fireworks. We are going to give them pound for pound as my players are more younger and energetic.

Our philosophy is to play as a team but Nigeria depends a lot on individual players and that will be their undoing in Malawi. Our main aim is not to qualify for the World cup but this does not mean we will be losing games as our main focus is making it back to the African Cup of Nations "Phiri said.

"We don't really mind the Nigerian big names as our aim is to beat them in front of our fans fair and square and prove to them we are no longer underdogs in Africa."

Super Eagles striker Victor Moses promised fans that his best is yet to come; "I have a lot of matches to play for my country Nigeria. I was fully overwhelmed playing in front of my countrymen and women wearing the green white green colour of Nigeria for the first time.

I was over excited. I appeal for understanding and a little patience. I would surely do well for Nigeria. I would put smiles on their faces. I love their support, and will be ready to do everything humanly possible to ensure that they smile. I want to tell them that I have many more matches to play for them."

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