Ademetan Abayomi takes a look at what the Super Eagles have going for them heading into the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarter-final clash against South Africa.
The Super Eagles sixth victory in the last 10 AFCON games was won. The Eagles’ eleven, or should I say twenty three, showed enduring qualities of strength, persistence and positive attitude. Many players did an exceptional job:
The back four consisting of Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong, Ola Aina and Chidozie Awaziem proved their strength throughout the second stanza. More credit is given to the attackers typically.
Proving his stamina and work rate was Samuel Chukwueze. He along with Chidozie Awaziemshowed great enthusiasm and effort while defending and attacking down their respectable flanks.
It was also very exiting seeing Alex Iwobi back in excellent form. Perhaps he stood out in this match as the Eagles played more of a possession, attacking styled match allowing him time and opportunity with the ball, in which he proved dangerous with. The Arsenal man looked fit as ever, chasing and intercepting balls, attacking and defending continuously, but what impressed many was his well taken winner.
The Super Eagles can also thank Odion Ighalo for his classy brace.
A positive and attacking Super Eagles the fans crave for, the team’s adrenaline levels is high. The Eagles who are through after clinching such a narrow victory will be fired up to take on South Africa this Wednesday in the quarter-final match. If the Super Eagles want to progress to the semi-final, they will have to tighten up a couple loose bolts and get ready to battle it out.
Going forward the men in Green and White created many chances, but did not execute the finishing touch. In Wednesday’s quarter-final Odion Ighalo will once again need to find his rhythm again and be more clinical in front of the opposition’s goal. The attacking line, will need to be more organized.
The attacking weapons of the Eagles can definitely threaten the Bafana Bafana back line, but that statement goes both ways as South Africa’s attacking threats can threaten the Eagles’ back line. The Eagles’ greatest threat will undoubtedly be Percy Tau. Wilfred Ndidi would be perfect to deny Tau space and time, however Tau will most likely have to be taken care of by other players. Possible candidates to deny Tau would be Chidozie Awaziem, William Troost-Ekong or Oghenekaro Etebo, however with all due respect, none of them match Ndidi’s intensity and reading of the game.
The 4-2-3-1 formation will probably be used to cope with South Africa’s attack as it allows extra stability in the back while posing great attacking threat on the counter and through the strikers. South Africa’s defense hasn’t necessarily looked all that convincing; the likes of Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo, Alex Iwobi and possibly Samuel Chukwueze will need to work hard to exploit the back line and produce for the Eagles.
Not too many people predicted the Eagles would have made it this far, in such a convincing manner. The success has been achieved due to ALL the players and staff members, not just a select few as shown throughout this tournament. High spirits, togetherness, respect and hard work is what got the Eagles to where they are now, and those are the attributes needed to bring them further forward. The Eagles should forget their past success in this tournament and think, if we win our three next games, we will be the African champions again.