By Lawal Jamiu Olakunle
Cairo international Stadium, Egypt.
Ahead of the Super Eagles upbeat battling with the Desert foxes in the semi Final of the ongoing Total African Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt; what are the grey areas that need to be put into consideration?
1. Should Mikel be Recall back to the Starting Line up?
It has somehow not be an eventful competition for the Super Eagles’ captain. As he has been out injured during the final group game against Madagascar; in which some quarters termed it a blessing in disguise for the National team. The former Chelsea defensive midfielder is of no doubt a vibrant figure around the national team with enormous experiences. Ability to steady the ship while the team is being outplayed is one of his greatest strength.
But often times he’s being criticize for possessing the ball to much while in an offensive mode and not tracking back with immediate alacrity if being disposes.
The pairing of Etebo Oghenekaro with Wilfred Ndidi has brought balance to the middle pack. Etebo being a box-to-box fully energized playmaker, stopping opposition’s attacking threat, clearing the balls, winning aerial duels and passing the balls out has been doing a lot of good in the middle. While Leicester’s Ndidi patching things up and supporting the defensive line when tracking back despite the fact we’ve not seen the magic expected of him by the teeming fans – as a big game player. So it’s therefore Paramount to retain the pairing at the middle.
2. Should Ighalo still leads the lines?
Prior to the knockout stage game against the indomitable Lions of Cameroon, so many pundits and football fans across the nation calls for the china based striker to be dropped to the bench as he hasn’t justified his selection.
But sends all critics into awe after man of the match display with two goals and an assist against the defending champion.
When he’s not scoring, he create assists, can hold the ball for the offensive line to regroup and shoot with both feet if being called upon. He disturbs the defensive line and keep them in suspense.
3. Musa or Moses?
The deputy “Skipo” was substituted in our last match against South Africa in which some pundits admit to his poor final passes while some admit it to a knock picked during the match. In which Moses Simon came in to make a corner kick assist for Ekong to score the winning goal.
The former CSKA Moscow was guilty of so many wrong decision passes during the game against South Africa. But on a good day, he is a fearful figure against any defender in the world with his direct runs and terrifying beating. He always keep defenders at the back pedal by taking the ball direct towards them and brushing them aside with his blistering speed. Moses Simon is also a player with artistic foot works but hasn’t yet level up to expectations in the tournament.
4. Should Jamilu Colins be retain in the line-up?
After missing the group and knockout games due to a thigh injury and illness; the German base left back Made his AFCON debut in the Quarter final against South Africa to retain his position from deputising Ola Aina at the left back.
The SC Paderborn 07 player did well against the Bafana as he dealt with most of the aerial threat being thrown at him and also kept their wide men at Bay. But this time around, he will have to come face to face with a more dangerous attacking Riyard Mahrez led Algiers. Ola Aina too has also been in-form and so far hasn’t put a foot wrong at the tournament. Going forward, either of them selected will do a good job except that Collins will perform better when it comes to aerial duels.
5. Should Nigerians start dreaming?
Only few pundits and fans were optimistic about Nigerians reaching this latter stage of the competition. So many have written them off as only few experienced player were included in the tournament squad; and those included have somewhat pass their blistering moment of their football careers. But from game to games they’ve grown in confidence, playing with cohesive force, unity and awakening the hope of Millions Nigerians; that they’re ready to conquer Africa again!
So should we start dreaming of a 4th African Cup of Nations?
But before then, the next barrier delaying our dream is against the desert Fox of Algeria!
Soar High #theEagles