16 June 2012

Nigeria/Malawi: Super Eagles - Half Bread Is Better Than...

Photo: CAF
Nigeria win 2-0 against Rwanda


I received a number of text messages in the wake of the Super Eagles' draw with the Flames of Malawi from irate Nigerians angry that the 'Giant of Africa' could not take all three points off a 'minnow!'

One wrote: "TS what is wrong with those boys (Eagles) imagine! They only had a few minutes to have secured victory and they ended up throwing away two valuable points!"

But to Joshua (he didn't add his surname) and others like him my simple answer is "would they prefer we be in Cameroon (they lost to Libya) or Ghana's (they lost to Zambia) shoes? Please don't forget one point (especially away from home) is always better than no point (in other words half bread is always better than no bread)!"

Yes, other critics will quickly say 'but Malawi is not in the same class as African champions, Zambia'; but then Denmark is not in the same class as Holland and yet we all know what happened when they met at Euro 2012.

Like I said two weeks ago when I mentioned Chelsea's victories over Barcelona and Bayern Munich in winning the Champions League - winning is the name of the game in football and when you can't win make sure you don't lose, especially when you are still in the round robin stage of a competition.

By the way, it is obvious the 'Chelsea plan' is becoming the norm, especially when a so-called 'underdog' is meeting a 'giant' in the 'beautiful game'.

On Monday England launched its Euro 2012 campaign with a clash against France with most pundits favouring the 1998 World Cup winners to triumph. Of course on paper they were right to put their money on the French; after all Laurent Blanc's side was unbeaten in 21 games going into the tournament while the Three Lions were showing up with a manager in Roy Hodgson, who was barely 40 days old on the job.

However, at the end of 90 minutes, the former West Brom manager was the happier of the two with Les Blues' Manchester United defender, Patrice Evra slamming England for playing the 'Chelsea way!'

But the reality is that Evra goofed because at the end of the day England gained a valuable point by not losing to their more favoured foe - as is shown on the Group D table.

Likewise fans should not expect anything different Saturday when the Amavubi (The Wasps) file out against the Eagles in the return leg of their South Africa 2013 qualifier.

As he should, Milutin Sredojevic has been making all the right noises about Nigeria not being unbeatable and how his side is ready to sting the home team in Calabar, but deep down it is just hot air.

Sredojevic knows that a point will be a massive result for the Wasps and that will be his game plan with all his players parked behind the ball hoping to hit the Eagles on the counter or capitalise on a mistake to inflict damage if possible.

The onus is thus on Stephen Keshi and his wards to come up with a plan to counter this and give fans what they crave for - which is a harvest of goals.

Will this happen? That is the million naira question. My gut feeling is that the Eagles will win but whether with a basketful of goals or by a solitary strike - fans should remember that three points is the name of the game.

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