23 January 2018

Nigeria/Equatorial Guinea: CHAN 2018 - Five Things Super Eagles Can Do to Beat Equatorial Guinea

Photo: Pixabay
Soccer ball in a stadium.

Sunday Faleye's 79th-minute goal against Libya ensured Nigerians did not have to dust up their mathematics textbooks and start solving permutations.

Draw or win and the Eagles will be in the quarterfinals against either Congo or Angola.

But the coach, Salisu Yusuf, and the players have professed a love for Tangiers, where they played their first two matches, and to achieve that wish, they will have to beat Equatorial Guinea, as it is likely for Libya to get a win over Rwanda.

If that happens, Nigeria will top Group C with seven points, followed by Libya on six points.

If the Super Eagles are to beat the Nzalang Nacional, here is what Coach Yusuf must do.

Make history the teacher

Two years ago in Rwanda, Nigeria needed a draw in their final group game against Guinea but got beaten 1-0. The scenario is similar though Guinea qualified for the quarterfinal but in Tuesday's match, Equatorial Guinea will be playing just for pride.

"It's more difficult facing a team playing for pride because the pressure will be more on us to achieve the desired result," Kalu Orji told naijafootballplus.com in Tangier, Morocco.

He added: "Focus is important and we hope to finish top of the game. We will accord them due respect and get the precious points."

Do not make too many changes

There is every penchant for the coach to make wholesale changes with one leg in the quarters - something he must desist from as a defeat could jeopardise all his well-laid plans.

Though there were complaints the Eagles did not play too well in the first two matches, they are yet to concede and have largely controlled the matches against Rwanda and Libya.

The players that have started have also been gaining confidence, so maybe two to three changes would be advised.

Try a new formation

We have played so far in a loose 4-3-3 formation with Rabiu Ali given the license to roam - something that has not really paid off.

Just like Gernot Rohr did against Argentina, he could try a 3-5-2 formation to see whether playing close to Faleye would help Tony Okpotu remember his route to goal.

Okpotu is a finisher and does his best work in the opponent's box while Faleye is the runner and the bag of tricks. Proximity to each other could open up a symbiotic relationship from which the team would reap in the knockout stages.

The well-wishers should stay clear

We are Nigerians and given to sending delegations to greet teams that are doing well. Please, Amaju Pinnick and the Nigeria Football Federation should receive the Senators and the Reps and convey their messages to the players.

It is neither the time nor the place; let those that have been given the task of preparing the team and the players the chance to do their respective jobs.

Stop those long balls

The long balls must stop. Teams that have gone on to play well in Morocco so far have been the ones to play the ball on the pristine turfs provided by the LOC of Morocco 2018.

Against a side like Equatorial Guinea who have got nothing to play for, playing the ball on the ground should be possible.

Coach Yusuf at the pre-match conference said he and his boys are expecting a tough encounter. "It is going to be a tough game like any other game they [Equatorial Guinea] will play for pride.

"They are going to come fighting and we are going to fight back too. It is a game that can take us to the quarter-final as group leaders, so we are not joking with this game", Yusuf added.

The key word for the Eagles is to take the match very serious - as one in which they need all three points to qualify and they will be fine.

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