Friday, March 25, 2016

Nigeria's Chance Narrows………...

A 1-1 tie today in Kaduna is a very disappointing result for Nigeria and puts Egypt firmly in the driver’s seat to reach the 2017 Cup for African Nations (CAN). Though Nigeria still has opportunity to finish first and qualify automatically or accumulate enough points to qualify as a second-placed team, those opportunities narrowed significantly today.

This was a game in which Nigeria launched wave after wave of attacks and led by an all-important one goal until a poor defensive awareness by Amuzie cost Nigeria the three points. Egypt to be sure had a very good tactical plan and perhaps deserved the tie because in spite of Nigeria’s waves of attack, Egypt was largely successful in limiting Nigeria to few clear opportunities in front of goal. Moreover, Egypt was always dangerous in quick counters as had been anticipated. Even with a goal down, Egypt did not appear ready to attack with all it had. That apparently is reserved for Tuesday’s return in Alexandria. Instead, with a goal down, Egypt played cautiously. They did change the point of pressure by setting it up higher than it was previously but still cautiously in defense.

Nigeria’s failure to wrap the game up probably ended up costing Nigeria the all-important win. Particularly sad for Nigeria was Egypt’s superb defensive work in the 83rd minute that prevented Victor Moses’ effort from crossing the line after Moses had sped past the onrushing goalkeeper. Below is the player ratings.


Carl Ikeme (1) – 6.2 – Did not do much but was very assured when he was called upon.

Abdullahi Shehu (13) – 6.0 – Average but did join the attack and had one second half cross that was not up to scratch.

Stanley Amuzie (6) – 6.1 – Did play reasonably well but his error of being inattentive in the crucial dying minutes with only a goal advantage cost Nigeria dearly.

Ambrose Efe (5) – 6.0 – Was average and did not quite dominate the aerial balls as one would have expected.

Godfrey Oboabona (2) – 6.0 – Another average day. Nothing special and was not tasked as Egypt rarely had the numbers in attack.

Mikel Obi (10 – cpt) – 6.1 – Had an average game compared to what is often expected of him. However, he did have the attention of the Egyptians in the midfield. He orchestrated the use of long balls in the opening half but most of those were way ward.

Etebor Oghenekaro (4) – 6.3 – Was ever present doing a lot of work in the midfield and eventually the ball fell to him for Nigeria’s goal. Will surely retain his spot in the Alexandria game.

Kelechi Iheanacho (8) – 5.8 – Below average performance. Lost a few balls and was largely quiet. However, he struck a good ball in the dying minutes of the opening half that looked like it will be Nigeria’s first goal.

Ahmed Musa (7) – 6.3 – Was busy and created uncomfortable moments for Egypt’s defense. It appeared that the decision to substitute him was that he appeared to be tiring reflected in one particularly poor cross just before he was hauled.

Odion Ighalo (9) – 6.0 – Ighalo had his chances. He failed to take them well but he was a point of concern for Egypt in the game. A particularly poor miss came late in the opening half.

Moses Simon (15) – 6.8 – In my opinion, Nigeria’s best player. He created problems throughout his time on the field until he was replaced. However, his set-pieces did not work today.

Umar Aminu (12) – 6.0 – Average and appeared to fade as the half went along.

Victor Moses (11) – 6.1 – He was lively when he came on and was unlucky not to have scored after Egypt cleared his shot from the line.

Alex Iwobi (18) – X – Not enough time to rate.

Coaching Crew – The crew played a high risk game that almost paid off but did create panic for Nigerians when Egypt attacked. The crew will likely face questions on why Nigeria’s must dangerous attackers – Simon and Musa were pulled off with only a 1-0 lead.