As Super Eagles clash with the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun in the 2018 World Cup qualifier today in Uyo, former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu has expressed concern about the tactical ability of the team being assembled by Gernot Rohr.
"I know we have individual players who could put up sporadic good performances, but their cognitive network as a team is the issue," Adelabu told The Guardian yesterday. "Many times I do not see what is called 'marriage of players' on the field of play. I mean a situation where players compliment one another tactically. Apart from just passing the ball to each other normally, I hardly see any uniqueness in our ball reception and transition based on field positions. I think the Coach will do something about all these laxities in our play."
Nigeria has won 11 in 19 previous encounters with Cameroun, while the Lions won four times and four matches drawn. But the Camerounians always have a way of spoiling the party for Nigeria at big occasions, having stopped the Eagles in three final matches of the Africa Cup of Nations including the Ghana/Nigeria 2000, and the qualifiers for Italia '90 FIFA World Cup.
However, Adelabu, a sport scientist, is of the view that today's match in Uyo should go the way of the Super Eagles. "We have to win to be comfortable at the top of the table, but the Indomitable Lions will surely put up a good fight. I see no reason why the Super Eagles would not defeat them.
He noted that the Eagles must approach the game differently saying: "I observed that most of our players produce the same standard of performances over the years. Their approach to the game is almost predictable until the opponents score against us. We need to learn to interpret the game very well. Even in a situation where we had advance knowledge of the opponents by watching the videos of their matches, we still approach the game at our convenience. Hardly do you see our team repeat particular set pieces consistently at various field positions to determine its effectiveness.
"Take for instance, if we watch a video of a game played by Cameroun, may be they drew or lost the game, we need to look at the pressure points and how the opponent broke down their defence. The style of their set pieces, their effectiveness and most importantly, the personality of the major players generating the pressure.
These are some of the latent tactical details that must be considered in choosing our team."Sincerely, I think it is unacceptable for any group of people to use the national team as a marketing ground for players. We need to rest players who have outlived their usefulness. Football has gone scientific. It has nothing to do with names, but the ability to process technical and tactical information as quickly as possible to the advantage of your team."
Adelabu warned the Super Eagles to be "careful because the Indomitable Lions will be looking for spot kicks as early as possible during the game. Eagles should play wide to open up the midfield and try as many pull outs as possible. Every game has it own standard, hence, the Super Eagles should determine how they want to approach the game and make sure they enforce that pattern on the Camerounians."