Egypt/Nigeria: Why Eagles Flopped Against Egypt, and How They Can Win Return Leg

By Jide Alaka

After the disappointment of losing three points against Egypt on Friday, the Super Eagles’ handlers and players must focus on the second leg coming up in Alexandria on Tuesday.

And rightly so, there has been the welcome news that the team would be travelling for the must-win second leg encounter in a chartered flight on Monday.

But now let us talk or analyze Friday’s match devoid of emotion and bias and proffer solutions for Samson Siasia and his players.

There was some naivety in the team

Samson Siasia chose to cap two players [not a bad idea in itself] – Stanley Amuzie and Oghenekaro Etebo started and the goal conceded in the 91s minute can be blamed primarily on this as Amuzie decided to play the offside card without looking at his central defenders. Part of the blame has to be shared with Carl Ikeme because it was his duty to see the danger around him, and should have ensured that all the Egyptian players in the box were properly marked.

The tempo was low

The Eagles started the game on fire but could not sustain the tempo past the seven-minute mark. At that point, there was a dangerous cross, a shot charged down in the box and two corner kicks but after this early pressure – the Eagles reverted to passing the ball from defence to midfield in slow motion. If that tempo had been kept up for at least 15 minutes, they could have gotten a goal.

Mikel was targeted

Every time Mikel had the ball, there was always Mohamed Al Neny and one other Egyptian in close proximity that did not allow him dictate the pace of the match as much as he would have liked. He was supposed to make the play from deep midfield but the Egyptians ensured that he was not allowed such luxury

Eagles did not use their speed on the flanks

The goal we scored came because Simon cut in from the left flank but despite such speed and trickery out wide, the Eagles did not take advantage of these. Ahmed Musa showed all his inconsistency as he blew hot and cold and he delivered just two good balls into the box before he was taken off. Simon went to ground too easily in Kaduna

Midfielders did not join in attacking the box

On the rare occasions that crosses were sent into the box in open play, there were just one or two Eagles against at least five Egyptians. The only goal came when the Eagles had four players in the box and Etebo was able to pounce on the rebound off Kelechi Iheanacho’s shot.

Solutions

Since we now know that Mikel has been targeted and cordoned off, we need to introduce a player that is able to dribble and carry the ball forward at pace. Victor Moses showed that difference when he came on the pitch and the coach might need to give Ahmed Musa a rest and start Alex Iwobi.

In defence, I see Ambrose Efe as a weak point – one fact that Hector Cuper would also have noted. Whether there is a credible replacement for Ambrose is a million dollar question. Siasia must also ensure that his players break their neck to get in the box when they are attacking – the more Eagles can get into the opposition, the greater the probability to score.

Lastly, in the defensive third, the players must play to the last whistle – there is no break in play until the ref has whistled. Please no raising of hands, you are not in a lecture class!

Source: All Africa