Walking a Tight Rope

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Super Eagles in Action
Super Eagles in Action

Nigeria’s Super Eagles stand the risk of not reaching the quarter final stage because they have bungled the match with  Zambia and after throwing away their lead in the first match against Burkina Faso

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Feb. 4, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

Stephen Keshi
Stephen Keshi

THE on-going African cup of nations in South Africa has started to produce the likely teams that would qualify for the quarter final stage. In the games played so far, South Africa, the host nation, is on course after winning its second group match against Angola. It is now leading group A with four points. A draw against Morocco will give it qualification to the quarter final stage. Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Tunisia, all started their group matches on a brighter note, winning their first matches. Ghana has also stepped up their chances after winning Mali.

However, countries like Nigeria, Zambia, Morocco and the DR Congo have to win their next group matches in order to qualify for the quarter final. In group C, Nigeria and Zambia have two points, Ethiopia has one while  Burkina Faso is leading the group with four points after their second matches.  This means that Nigeria must win its match against Ethiopia on Tuesday, January 29, to have any hope of advancing to the next stage. A draw will put the nation in a precarious position.

Soccer analysts have already started touting the match between Nigeria and Zambia as the final before the final for the Nigerian Super Eagles. But they are also optimistic that the nation’s team will qualify for the quarter final. The Super Eagles played an entertaining game in their return to the continental showpiece but missed a couple of great chances that would have put them on the driving seat in their first group match. Playing a compact football of 4-4-2 formation, the team has so far showed class and quality. Stephen Keshi, coach of the team, has appealed to Nigerians to be patient and promised that the team would deliver.

Emenike celebrating his goal against Burkina Faso
Emenike celebrating his goal against Burkina Faso

But many football lovers in the country are still sceptical of the Eagles’ defence. They said if the defence did not firm up, it would be difficult when it faces strong oppositions like Ghana, the DR Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and Tunisia at the advanced stages of the competition. The red card given to Efe Ambrose, Nigerian defender, in the match against Burkina Faso exposed the quality of its defence.

On the other hand, the Burkina Faso players lacked the creativity to break the Nigerian defence until Alain Traore, a striker, capitalised on a slip by Godfrey Oboabona, a defender, in the fourth minute of stoppage time to level scores.

After the game, Keshi congratulated his players. To him, it was not a bad game. “I’m very proud of the boys; they did everything that I wanted them to do. In the last 25 days, it is the fourth game we played together as a team because we are building, I would let everything die down tonight, let them sleep off and tomorrow I will pick it up if I have to go in the middle of the night, I will do that. This game is gone and I will prepare them for the game against Zambia,” Keshi said. The outcome of the next game will determine whether Keshi will still be proud of his boys.

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