Eagles Plan Tears For Bafana Fans
Nigeria go into Wednesday's encounter with the Bafana Bafana of South Africa knowing fully well that they must come out of the encounter with a point to stand any chance of resurrecting their quest for a place at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.
The Super Eagles lost their first match in Group A to the Red Devils of Congo in an insipid display at the UJ Esuene Stadium over the weekend.
Despite losing 3-2, the score line must have been flattering to the reigning African champions because on the balance of play, Congo deservedly got the three points at stake, a situation that the Eagles need to remedy going into the all important clash.
Supersport.com takes a look at four things Stephen Keshi and his wards need to do if they are to come out of the game unscathed with maximum points to roost.
Be compact and ready
South Africa will feel this is their chance to gain one over Nigeria considering the Super Eagles have been a bogey team for the Bafana Bafana over the last decade.
The Super Eagles have to up their game. They need to be at their best if they are to stop the youthful South African side assembled by Ephraim Mashaba.
Unlike what was evident against Congo, the Eagles must plug all gaps and spaces between the defence and midfield so that transition from defence to attacker will be swifter. This was a major issue against Congo, and needs to be sorted out by Keshi and his assistants.
Return to the wings
Nigeria have always thrived playing through the wings. The likes of Segun Odegbami, Adokiye Amiesiamaka, Uwem Ekarika, Finidi George and Emmanuel Amuneke gave Nigerian fans joy with pace and trickery down the flanks.
Ahmed Musa will be a key man in this game. The CSKA Moscow man has started the season with his club off to a flyer, hitting home two goals already.
Nigeria will need him to be at his best if the Eagles are to mount any serious challenge against the youthful Bafana Bafana side.
Emmanuel Emenike will surely thrive if Musa can get the balls to the byline and whip in some crosses in. If Musa has a good day on Wednesday night, then Nigeria will come out with something from the game.
Tactics must be spot on
Keshi lost the battle of the drawing boards to Claude Leroy who checkmated the former Togo coach with two moves.
It was quite clear Nigeria had no definite game plan against the Congolese. Probably the crisis at the NFF did not help his cause, but Keshi had 45 minutes to sort out his game plan but unfortunately failed.
Such mistakes cannot be repeated against South Africa. He needs to get it spot on, playing personnel and otherwise. The midfield combo of John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi and Ramon Azeez did not click – I expect changes in that department.
Keshi needs to get the balance right. He is condemned to do so.
Horse and carriage
There was no matrix to calculate areas covered by the Super Eagles players or any that will reveal their performance index against the Congolese but it is not rocket science to see that some players were not up for it.
The Bafana Bafana game will be a different challenge for the Super Eagles. They must be ready to rub the green and get dirty for 90 minutes. Every blade of the grass has to be covered.
South Africa ran Sudan ragged especially in the second half. The young side kept running at the Sudanese who could not cope with the speed at strength of the side and they fell like a pack of cards in the last 25 minutes of the game.
The same fate awaits the Super Eagles if they do not step up a gear. Everyone has to be ready and up for the game. Fortunately, they do not need much motivation considering they would want to get back on track and prove they are worthy African champions.
The game against South Africa will not be easy for the Super Eagles, they will have to spread their wings and fly. The records favour Nigeria, but records do not play football as occasioned by Congo's humbling of the Eagles in Calabar.
The players have to stand up and be counted, they have to make it happen, so that Africa will know that the Eagles have landed.