A flick on and a jab – that was all it took for Super Eagles’ Sunday Faleye to get the desired goal against the Mediterranean Knights of Libya on Friday at the Grand Stade de Tanger in Tangier.
With that goal, the Eagles went top of Group C and should go through when they confront a naïve Equatorial side next Tuesday. These might not be needed against the Islanders but they will clearly be needed in the quarter-finals and beyond when they will meet the winner or runner-up from Group D.
Commit more players to attack the opponent’s box
One stark reality from the two matches – lack of goals encapsulates quite rightly the local league where the average number of goals per match is two, and one of them most often would come from the penalty spot. Teams that score goals commit players to the opponent’s box. But apart from set pieces, the Eagles normally had just two players in the Libyan box – if they continue like this, they will continue to struggle to get goals.
Relegate Okpotu to the bench
When Anthony Okpotu was pulled out in the 61st minute, he looked less than satisfied though he did not throw any tantrums. His work in Morocco has been a dismal 140 minutes, in which he had not had a shot on target. For a player who scored 19 goals in the NPFL, his showing for the CHAN Eagles begs some of us to ask how he scored those 19 goals.
The best thing for the team going forward would be to give him some rest on the bench. In a team that struggles to create goal-scoring chances, it is better to go with attackers who can create with their energy and doggedness.
Cut out long passes from the back
It looks like all the defenders and midfielders want to do is collect the ball and launch it towards the forwards and see what will or can happen. We all know Yusuf’s coaching to be better than that. The team needs to construct their forward forays from intelligent triangles. The players must be given the confidence to pass the ball not launch it at every suspect opportunity.
Ali needs a rest
It was very surprising that Rabiu Ali played all 90 minutes against Libya. He was virtually a passenger in the match and his malaise did not help Okpotu in any way because the Pillars’ man was supposed to be his chief supplier. He had one shot smacked against the crossbar against Rwanda but it would be hard to see anything else the 34-year-old has done in Morocco.
Yusuf clearly needs to help Ogbuh
Clearly, Emmanuel Ogbuh is the most technical forward in the CHAN team – able to see and exploit opportunities, especially on breakaways but he has been backing himself into cul-de-sacs in the two matches. The coaching staff led by Yusuf must sit down with the Rivers United forward on how he should deploy his technical ability and help the team create more genuine goal scoring chances and to score himself.
The team can obviously improve in all aspects, though the defensive foundation of Stephen Eze and Orji Okagbue in central defence is already in place. He has to tinker with his midfield and attack to get the best out of this set of players.