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4 lessons from Eagles’ win in Pointe Noire

4 lessons from Eagles’ win in Pointe Noire
November 15
23:00 2014

ENYEAMA REMAINS EAGLES’ SAFEST HAND

Vincent Enyeama 2

Vincent Enyeama justified the extra hours of massaging and physiotherapy from the Super Eagles medical staff to shrug off a niggling shoulder injury after putting up a commanding performance against Congo in Pointe Noire.

The Lille of France numero uno saved everything thrown at him when called to action, like:

His 2nd-minute save that ricocheted off Egwuekwe’s shin.

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His 16th-minute save from the corner kick after Thievy Bifouma’s charge at Egwuekwe.

His 50th-minute save from Congo’s free kick from 35 yards.

His mother-of-all 65th-minute penalty save from Bifouma to keep Nigeria ahead.

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His 66th-minute save, which was quickly turned into a counter attack that almost led to Congo going behind a second time.

If the Glo/CAF Africa Footballer of the Year award and the BBC’s equivalent of the laurel are handed out based on a single match performance, Enyeama’s heroics in this game should earn him those individual medals.

After all, Nwankwo Kanu won the CAF award in 1998 after his three goals condemned Chelsea to a 3-2 loss at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.

MIKEL’S BEST GAME IN A LONG WHILE

Mikel Obi

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John Obi Mikel was almost becoming a limited liability company to his Super Eagles colleagues.

At Brazil 2014 World Cup and the four AFCON 2015 qualifiers prior to Saturday’s game in Congo, fans feared they had seen the last of the “real” Mikel, the one they adored before he became a bit-part-player with Barclays Premier League side, Chelsea.

The ghost of the “fake” Mikel was exorcised in Pointe Noire!

Enyeama was the man-of-the-man but the former Plateau United midfielder was – if there’s anything like it – the second-man-of-the-match!

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He created chances; he controlled the midfield; and good Lord, he went for tackles and almost nodded a corner-kick home!

And they say Mikel dreads artificial turf.

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UCHE GOT NERVES

Ik Uche

Many a lily-livered will pass up the responsibility of taking a decisive spot-kick in his first game after a long absence from the team.

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Not so with Ikechukwu Uche.

The relationship between the Villarreal striker and coach Stephen Keshi is akin to Tom and Jerry in the evergreen cartoon for kids – and adults.

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But sometimes, even the cat and the mouse get along when faced with a common foe and that must have been on the mind of Uche as he stepped forward to face Chansel Massa in goal for Congo.

A low shot to the left of the keeper gave Nigeria a 1-0 lead. The execution and composure made it look easy.

But it wasn’t.

Uche indeed has nerves.

QUALIFICATION MAY JUST BE IN THE BAG?

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria are a win away from booking a ticket to 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to be hosted by Equatorial Guinea.

With a 2-0 win away to Congo in Pointe Noire on Saturday, the Stephen Keshi-tutored side clawed back to reckoning after a disastrous start to the campaign.

With same seven points but a superior goal difference with Congo, a win by any margin against South Africa in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state on Wednesday will see the team finish in second position with 10 points.

Who would have thought this possible after the team failed to win their first three games in a relatively easy group comprising Sudan, Congo, and South Africa.

A major change in fortune befitting a Hollywood or Nollywood movie script is the story of AFCON defending champions’ campaign.

1 Comment

  1. So-Kleva
    So-Kleva November 18, 17:21

    I just love the humour and graphics that The Cable adds to sports reporting, its just so nice.

    Reply to this comment

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