Ten days ago, the Super Eagles of Nigeria kick-start their Russia 2018 world cup campaign with a loss against Croatia conceding an own goal and a spot kick.
Croatia was a better team on papers and on the field that day, they were the better team in all ramifications.
It was a lucky day for Luka Modric and Co. as they faced a rather lackluster Nigerian with no cogent attacking intent compared to the super eagles that beat Argentina four goals to two and drew with England one goal apiece at Wembley en route to the world cup.
Although there were talks, suggestions and different opinion piece about the super eagles’ chances of making it out of that group when the draw was made.
The group was perceived to be a tricky one with a pressurized Argentine team wielding the lion himself Lionel Messi, a Croatian team with one of the most disciplined midfielders in this world cup and lastly the Iceland team popularly called Vikings and are known to pull off upset at the weirdest times.
But many Nigerian fans would have said: “We can qualify, if we can salvage a draw against Croatia, beat Iceland and hope for God intervention against the Albicelestes”.
However, in this game called football, nothing is certain. Ten days ago June 15th, things took an unexpected turn when Nigeria lost to Croatia with an underwhelming performance and Lionel Messi’s Argentina sharing points with the Vikings, in fact, Messi himself couldn’t even score against a film director when he missed a spot kick.
Right there, that moment the super eagles’ chances slimmed down drastically and all hopes of making it to the round 16 was left hanging in shreds.
Fortunately 3days ago, A Messiah was to be discovered in the person of Ahmed Musa who bagged two outstanding goals against a bunch of doctors and their dentist manager in a crunch encounter at Volgograd Arena.
Even the Vikings with Ice in their veins could feel the burning heat of the eagle in Musa. He was indeed a super eagle.
To make matter interesting, Argentina had fallen to a sounding defeat to the very much determined Croatian team by a three-goal margin. And Croatia now seats comfortably on top of the group with six points and Nigeria is second.
points and the most surprising thing is Argentina is bottom of the group with just one point to their name. So pathetic.
The super eagles’ chances have been revived by a single game and a single man. A game where everything went right and the tactics just seemed to be made for the players.
Well, the traditional 3-5-2 formation was made for the players and it was evident in the game against Iceland as Musa’s speed was a serious torn on the Iceland team and Moses creativity was also a constant problem.
It’s a good thing the super eagles found their rhythm and the right tactics sooner rather than later as one would wonder the reason the 4-2-3-1 formation was adopted against Croatia. It was an obviously a mistake and players were out of position leading to the loss.
The super eagles will take on Argentina tomorrow and if there is any chance of Nigeria making it out if the group, they have to play at least a draw and hope Iceland doesn’t beat Croatia by more than 3 goals. It’s definitely not going to be a walk In the park and the strength of the Argentine squad can’t be underestimated after all they still wield the mighty Messi.
But one thing is for sure, the super eagles of Nigeria will go into the game with their heads high and hope of making the fans back home proud irrespective of who they will be facing in the final round of the good stage.
They just need Messi to be quiet for one more game and the Albicelestes to have one more bad game and then we can surely ride our luck and make it out of the group of death.
Guest Writer – Abdul-Lateef Rufai
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