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THE PANEL: Nigeria or Bosnia to win 2-1

THE PANEL: Nigeria or Bosnia to win 2-1
June 20
17:38 2014

One day, the Super Eagles will be a subject in secondary school curriculum and a typical JAMB question could go:

Which expression depicted the team’s situation prior to a 2014 World Cup game with Bosnia?

a) Do-or-die

b) Win-or-bust

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c) Make-or-mar

d) All of the above

The answer is a no-brainer, but the team are unpredictable as ever; the Super Eagles may fly or may not even get off the ground.

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Our analysts are back to look at tomorrow’s decisive game between a team who narrowly lost to World Cup favourites, Argentina, and a team who laboured to a drab draw against the tournament’s we-are-here-to-make-the-numbers team, Iran.

Note: One analyst, Adegoke Adelabu, a former footballer, is yet to recover from the 0-0 draw with Iran, which explains his snappy answers.

Preview 2What should Stephen Keshi do differently in this match after the dismal performance against Iran?

Bless Ekene (BE): Well, he could start by telling the players to keep the ball on the ground. I was so ashamed to see the Super Eagles play long balls for a better part of our match with Iran. If they had kept the ball on the ground and played like the African champions they are, we could have seen a different outcome. So what I’m expecting from Keshi is a total change of tactics.

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Also, I think there should be some changes in personnel. Osaze must start that match if we have any plans of winning. This is a make-or-break match for us and I think if Keshi has the balls, he should drop Mikel. I think he isn’t living up to his billing.

Sunday Omeike (SO): I’ve a read several reports castigating the Super Eagles’ dismal showing against Iran and it’s rightly so. Apart from the fact that several players were in their first World Cup, resulting in stage fright, chief among their problems was lack of creativity in the midfield, followed by an entirely disjointed attack. Keshi’s 4-3-3 system is a perennial tournament formation; however, when the game starts unfolding, the midfield must be able to push upward to support the lone striker while also adequately supplying the wingers. This was not on display against Iran, as several passes were misplaced or passed backwards by the duo of Onazi and Mikel. Ramon Azeez tried too hard but got it all wrong, thereby questioning the absence of the gritty Sunday Mba from this team.

A win is needed next and for this to come to reality, the players must wake up to their duties. The team could do with the presence of the trio of Victor Moses, Osaze Odemwingie and Ahmed Musa from the start in a 4-2-3-1 tactical set-up. These three can play in any position from the wings to behind Emenike – who it must be said should just hover around the last defender all-night – and their ability to swap attacking positions from time to time could be key to dragging the opponent’s defence all over the place. Also, the duo of Mikel and Onazi should ensure quick transition of the ball from defence to attack, as this will keep the opposition’s defence unsettled.

Preview 3Adegoke Adelabu (AA): I do not know what is in his mind, because I could not see any constructive instruction passed to the players throughout the game.

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What should we expect from Edin Dzeko and co.?

AA: In the match against Argentina, Bosnia spent 70% of their energy to stop the Argies from scoring; hence they could not do much. They will match the Eagles strength for strength, and this man’s (Dzeko) height may be an advantage for them against our defence.

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BE: I think Nigerians are now coming to terms with the magnitude of the task facing our boys after the draw with Iran. They had thought we would cruise through our group, but I think that draw may work in our favour. At least, we have learnt how not to underrate any team.

Bosnia aren’t pushovers and have some top, top players, not forgetting the fact that they topped their qualification group in Europe. They can cause us harm from anywhere, but I think their biggest threat is Edin Dzeko. The Eagles should be prepared for aerial bombardment, because Dzeko is so good in the air. I’d prefer Egwuekwe to start ahead of Yobo because of his height. But if Yobo starts, he must bring his experience to bear in organising our defence.

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SO: The Manchester City striker is a big man upfront, holding up play and bringing others to play while also offering top-notch heading ability, including a ferocious shot. Therefore, marking him out could go a long way in helping our cause. The 28-year-old is also his country’s highest goalscorer (forget that he had a poor night against Argentina as he was marked out by Ezequiel Garay, ably supported by Javier Mascherano who did the mopping-up job). He would want to put that abject showing behind him and help his country to their first points in the World Cup. However, Bosnia is not all about Dzeko, as they have creativity in the form of midfield controller, Miralem Pjanic, and speed from winger, Senad Lulic. There is also striker Vedad Ibisevic, who is dangerous at sniffing a chance. Therefore, an enterprising showing, just like they had against Argentina, is expected again.

Who are Eagles’ key men in this game?

BE: I’m hoping on Emenike, Moses and Osaze to deliver the goods for us. If they don’t come through, then na God hand we dey.

SO: It has to be goalkeeper and vice-captain, Vincent Enyeama. The LOSC Lille number one shot-stopper rescued his colleagues from embarrassment with an instinctive save against Iran and more of his heroics will be needed against their European opponents, who will pose a far greater threat.

On the flip side, if Oboabona doesn’t recover from his injury and Joseph Yobo starts, the captain would have to show that he merits a place in the squad and prove his many doubters wrong by shutting out the energetic Bosnians who are sure to target his position as a weak link in the Eagles’ defence.

AA: Moses, Amoebi and Musa are okay in the attack. The midfield should release the ball on time behind the opponents’ defence.

Preview 4What’s your prediction?

SO: Nigeria had an uninspiring display against Iran and will look to raise their game against the enterprising Bosnians who gave Argentina a run for their money before succumbing, and they would look to build on that spirited display. This makes the encounter a daisy cutter, but I’m sticking my neck for a 2-1 win for either side.

BE: I believe if focused we can comfortably win this match. I’ll go for a 2-1 win in our favour.

AA: It is difficult to predict because anything could happen in this World Cup. Teams are improving at every game. But Eagles should be able to take care of Bosnia.

Match facts

Nigeria and Bosnia are both looking for their first wins of this World Cup.

This will be the first-ever game between Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Nigeria have won four, lost four and drawn once against European sides at the World Cup.

Nigeria haven’t won any of their last nine World Cup games (D3 L6), their last victory being a 1-0 scoreline against Bulgaria in 1998.

Vedad Ibisevic netted Bosnia-Herzegovina’s first ever World Cup goal — against Argentina. He had already found the net eight times in the European World Cup qualifiers.

Nigeria’s last World Cup goal from open play came in 2002 (Julius Aghahowa against Sweden).

Five of the last six goals Nigeria have conceded at the World Cup have come from set-pieces.

No player was involved in more goals than Edin Dzeko in the European qualifiers (14 – 10 goals, 4 assists).

Bosnia-Herzegovina attempted more shots at goal (11) than their opponents Argentina (9) in the opening match.

What the Eagles say

We have to fight to win. We know it will be very, very difficult against Bosnia. They lost their first game; we drew ours. They will come at us; we will go at them, because both teams want to win. Had we won against Iran, it would have been a different story. But the ball is still in our court and we will grow from strength to strength. It will be an exciting game, very different from the game against Iran, who sat back in their defence. — Joseph Yobo

It’s a must-win for both nations and as current African champions, we are aware of the expectations. We will do our very best to make Nigeria proud. I was on holidays for most part of the game against Iran, but it would definitely be different against Bosnia, and I’m ready. I know they have a more vibrant attack (than Iran) and won’t sit back like Iran did against us. They will come at us; and just like us, they need the game to forge ahead. A goalkeeper can always keep his team in a game and that is what I will do against Bosnia. I am looking forward to this game. – Vincent Enyeama

We have some information about Bosnia. One of their players is my teammate at Lazio and there is another one who plays for Roma and I have played against him. We have watched their video clips; we are ready to use the information to be successful in the game. – Ogenyi Onazi

The Bosnia game is a game we were always going to be looking to win anyways so nothing has changed. – Shola Ameobi

 

1 Comment

  1. baba
    baba June 20, 18:14

    May God help Nigeria to win.

    Reply to this comment

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