22 June 2017

Nigeria/Cameroon: How Eagles Should Prepare for Cameroon Clash

Photo: allafrica.com
Super Eagles' Michael Obi and Indomitable Lions' Benjamin Moukandjo (file photo).

Football today depends a lot on a team's tactical preparation. A team with averagely-talented players but with an intelligent tactical preparation can beat a team of 11 talented players who have had no preparation at all.

Another truth is you will not better understand a team and its tactics by sitting at pitch level - the best guarantee of getting a holistic picture is by sitting in the stands, which is what Gernot Rohr did on Sunday when Cameroon clashed with Chile.

The Indomitable Lions, by virtue of winning the 2017 Nations Cup, are representing Africa at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup - the dry run for next year's World Cup scheduled for Russia.

In their first match, the Lions, led by Hugo Broos, showed the players and the characteristics that should evidently be on show in August when the World Cup qualifying campaign resumes against the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

The Super Eagles currently head their group with the maximum six points from two matches, followed by Cameroon who have two draws from their first two matches.

This fact makes it doubly important for the Eagles to get a victory [in whatever form] when the teams clash on August 27 with the return four days later in Cameroon.

Here are the pros and cons of the lions as evidenced by their showing against Chile.

Pros

Very physically strong

Immediately what comes to mind is that players like John Ogu, Isaac Success and Mikel Obi must be involved in these matches to match up for physical presence. The Lions, though tame from corner kicks against Chile, could prove a handful for the Eagles with players like Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Vincent Aboubakar and the captain of the side, Brice Moukandjo.

Solution

One-touch passing will negate this use of brawn by the Cameroonians. One trait that was particularly glaring on Sunday was the use of the entire pitch by the Chileans and the propensity for the midfield runners like Arturo Vidal to break from deep to latch on to lofted balls. The Lions did not like playing in constricted areas and found it very difficult to keep a hold of the ball for any appreciable length of time when they were quickly pressed in possession.

Quick and agile breakaways

Just like the Eagles conceded the second goal against South Africa, Cameroon would be hoping to break from deep and cause damage against Nigeria because of the fleet-footedness of Moukandjo and Christian Bassogog down the flanks.

Solution

The Eagles must be ready to commit 'professional' fouls deep in the Cameroon area at any hint of a breakaway just like Mauricio Pellegrini's Tottenham do in the English Premier League.

There were also some noticeable negatives

Pressed high up the pitch, the Lions were made uncomfortable in possession, which meant they could not string passes together in midfield to generate offensive thrusts.

The Eagles should move very high up the pitch to condense the playing space.

Defenders were not comfortable in possession and on many occasions just booted the ball up field to relieve pressure.

The Eagles should try and create two-on-two situations all across the pitch to exacerbate this defect.

It does not mean the Eagles would win if all the above get taken care of. But it gives the technical crew a template with which they can adequately prepare the players for the Cameroonian challenge.

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