The two countries, separated by Cameroon and Chad, are eons apart in recent football pedigree. In 13 meetings since 1963, the Super Eagles have only lost twice and have won on seven occasions.
While Sudan last won the Nations Cup in 1970, Nigeria can count 2013 as the year of her last victory.
But if we are talking about national football teams wholly made up of players in the local leagues, then Sudan could be said to have a better one than Nigeria.
In CAF rankings, Sudan is 5th, while Nigeria is in 12th place, which means the Eagles are punching above their weight in Morocco to have reached the semifinals.
With an average age of 27.5, the Falcons are very experienced campaigners from Al Ahli SC, Al-Merrikh SC, and Al Ahli Club – clubs who campaign regularly in CAF tournaments.
Therefore if Nigeria’s Super Eagles want to be successful in their mission to Morocco – winning an elusive title for West Africa, here are the five things Coach Salisu Yusuf must do against Sudan on Wednesday:
Try to score early and at least twice
In Sudan’s last five matches, they have scored five goals; they are a low scoring side that knows how to defend stoutly. In those five matches, they drew with Morocco 0-0 but against Zambia, Mauritania, and Guinea, they scored in the first half.
Coach Salisu Yusuf should thus ensure his players are primed to go from the kickoff, seeking to score an early goal. The Falcons have not gone behind in any of their last five matches, a situation the Eagles can exploit. Score early and hope they cannot react.
Rest Ali for the latter stages of the match
Rabiu Ali played all the 120 minutes against Angola and will need to be rested – at least for the first 45 minutes on Wednesday. The 37-year-old suffered cramp at the end on Sunday, which means he should be given a breather against Sudan because of just two days given for recuperation.
As one gets older, most players need over two days to recover completely before undertaking another match. If he is introduced in the second half, at least he would be as fresh as those that started the match.
Replace Timothy Danladi
It was almost a disaster for Timothy Danladi when he came on for Orji Okagbue. He wasn’t ready for the match or else the occasion overwhelmed him. Coach Yusuf knows his team better than we do but on that showing, it will be good advice to leave the Katsina United man out of the action against a very experienced Sudanese side. It is a dicey decision if Okagbue does not make it but one the coach has to make.
Current Form: Nigeria [W-W-W-D-W]; Sudan [W-D-W-W-W]
Head to head
|15/10/14||ANQ||Nigeria||3 – 1||Sudan|
|11/10/14||ANQ||Sudan||1 – 0||Nigeria|
|09/01/08||FRI||Nigeria||2 – 0||Sudan|
|01/07/01||WCQ||Sudan||0 – 4||Nigeria|
|27/01/01||WCQ||Nigeria||3 – 0||Sudan|
Curb some of the offensive instincts of Ikouwem
Ikouwem Utin came in to replace Daniel James against Angola and got very high marks, especially for his offensive runs. He will need to curb some of these against Sudan, who like to sit back and exploit spaces down the flanks. This is not saying he should not join the attack but that he should be wary of quickly returning when possession is turned over to the Sudanese.
The midfield has to be very compact
Atuloma must increase his passing efficiency against the trio of Nasr El Shighail, Mohamed Bashir, and Maaz Gismalla – the main suppliers for Saifeldin Bakhit, who has scored two of their four goals the Sudanese, have scored in Morocco. One tactic that has worked for the Falcons is long balls to Gismalla, who knocks down for Bakhit to make hay.
Atuloma is proficient enough in the air and should be handed the role of ensuring these knockdowns never get to Bakhit. Also, the energy of Dayo Ojo would be required to cover the long legs of Shighail especially.
There is also the part that the Eagles must not be wasteful when they get into goal scoring positions, as there wouldn’t be too many of that against a stingy Sudan defense.
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