Lessons We Learnt From The Home Eagles Match Against Tunisia


By: Obiweluozo Martins

The Super Eagles of Nigeria drew 1-1 with the North African counterparts Tunisia on Friday in Group C encounter. A goal each from Chisom Chikatara “the Kolanut boy” just 7 minutes after the intermission was cancelled out by Tunisia’s talismanic forward Ahmed Akaichi in the 70th minute to ensure both sides shared the spoils.

Both sides came into the game with different intensions, as Nigeria wanted to seal qualification to the Knockout stages through victory while the Tunisians were adamant of losing the game that would lead to an early exit from the group stages and therefore ensured an end to end game of which both sides have the chance to win it. However, the Home Eagles needed to do more to achieve their aim of booking a place in the quarter-finals but due to some slacks in their game could not achieve the bench mark.

The Home Eagles must settled some areas of their games to be stronger in subsequent games. There were high and low points in the midst of the draw as Eagles seek victory going into the final game. SoccerNet Nigeria reviews the lessons we learnt from the Home Eagles encounter against Tunisia.

CHIKATARA, A SHINING LIGHT SO FAR

The Kolanut boy (Chikatara) rumpling the Tunisian defence without mercy.

The Kolanut boy has seized attention already in the ongoing CHAN 2016 tournament with just two games played. The forward registered a hat-trick under 36 minutes of action against Nigeria Republic after coming on as a substitute for fellow striker Tunde Adeniji in the 54th minute of the first game. He scored his fourth goal of the Tournament as it proved the only goal of the game for Eagles as they shared the spoil with the highly technical Tunisians. His movement on the ball had been a handful for his opponent as all eyes are on him to keep him at bay all to no avail as he fired Eagles to the lead against Tunisia in the 52 minute of the match. The forward is now a poster boy in Rwanda as his goal had made him popular. Such popularity and fear-factor had the 21 year-old earned in just two games. Expect the skillful forward to continue to dazzle with four goals and counting in the tournament as defender will be more glued to his jersey giving more rooms for other Nigerian forwards to exploit as the Tournament continues.

EAGLES SLOW IN TRANSITION

The Home Eagles were slow in moving the ball to the opponent goal. They tried to rely on a slow and steady patient build up, which was not all that productive as the opponent Tunisia decide to sit back with men behind the ball and hit the Eagles on the break. The quality is there but the Eagles midfield trio of Paul Onobi, the youthful Ifeanyi Matthew and Usman Mohammed must be quick enough in order to unravel more chances for the forward lines.

The Eagles can pass the ball around but getting to the final third was delayed often due to too much dwelling on the ball. The Eagles midfield needed to be more agile and running into position to unsettled the Tunisians in their “Comfort Zone”, there is a rapid need for an increase in intensity especially in the search of a goal most importantly when the opposition is becoming defensive in their approach to the encounter. Chima Akas was also a victim of this delay as he held the ball often restricting the run of his team prompting a close down of acres of space within second. The Eagles need to watch out on this in the next games.

EAGLES NEED LINK UP TO THE FINAL THIRD

The midfield must link up well in transition to avoid isolating the attackers.

The Eagles midfield was lacking an immediate link up to the attack as the Eagles were content in hitting the ball from defence to the attack on occasions. Most of times the midfield (Ifeanyi Matthew) tried to find the top striker from deep positions as those passes were halted before reaching its preferred destination. This lead to the striker Chisom Chikatara been isolated in attack. This lack of link up play to the final third, which is an Iheanacho kind of player was lacking as this entailed to lack of option in attack when a player is in box to square a pass. The wide men need to connect to the center forward more often and the midfield must release them adequate to prevent running into the offside trap. A good link up play will enable the striker to have more space to finish as the passes would be coming from a close source where his body movement cannot be easily detected on time and halted for the positivity of the team.

TUNISIA’S WRONGLY DISALLOWED GOAL

Ahmed Akaichi the victim of a disallowed goal. In a game which ended one goal apiece, there would be some mind permutations and statistics going on among the viewers and possibly the home fans, had the disallowed goal stood or what would have been the actual outcome of the game after Ahmed Akaichi deservedly equalized for the North Africans. Who knows may be the Home Eagles would have last 2-1 or may have been spurred on to fight for an instant victory.

Such was the questions generated as the center referee from Botswana wrongly ruled out a well worked Tunisian goal. We wondered the reason for the whistle against the goal, whether it was an offside or that the ball had cross the line for a goal-kick or whether there was an infringement in the build up to the goal but our questions were becoming rhetorical as the game wore on and ended in a 1-1 draw. We duly accepted in conclusions without preferential sentiment that the goal was wrongly ruled out in the favour of the Home Eagles.

A day the referee mistake would have caused the opponent (Tunisians) the game had they lost and edge closer to an undeserved elimination just as Ahmed Akaichi said that the Home Eagles were lucky against them and with the decision of the center referee in that encounter and the final result tied at 1-1 you will be tempted to agree with the forward in that case, but in anyway your guess is as good as mine as the Eagles escaped defeat at the dying moment of the game.
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