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Opinions of Sunday, 16 January 2022

Columnist: Michael Kessey

Super Eagles show class against the Pharaoh’s of Egypt

Samuel Chukwueze, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ola Aina and Joe Aribo celebrating a goal Samuel Chukwueze, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ola Aina and Joe Aribo celebrating a goal

It would be an understatement to say the Super Eagles of Nigeria would be able to defeat the Pharaohs of Egypt looking at their performance in the World Cup qualifiers where they suffered a shocking defeat in the hands of Central Africa Republic and drew with Cape Verde that led to the sacking of their Head Coach Gernot Rohr. The Egyptians came into the match as the favorites based on the current form of their prolific striker (Mohammed Salah) and their track record as the only team which have won the Africa Cup of Nations seven (7) times, more than any African team.

Super Eagles on the other hand showed no respect to their opponent right from the blast of the referees’ whistle and they fought like a wounded lion and made sure they unsettled them and caged Salah throughout the game. The Super Eagles played above themselves to prove their critics who did not give them a dog chance of beating their opponent wrong with a superb performance. The team’s performance on the day proved they were poised for action and their eyes were on winning the trophy at stake.

Tactically, the Super Eagles on the day in terms of discipline were ahead of the Pharaohs in every department of the game, that is their defense was solid, midfield tight, attack swift, and purposeful. Maduka Okoye was able to organize his defense in order not to cause any blunder that could cause havoc to the team. In the midfield, field Marshall Winfred Ndidi and his compatriot Joe Aribo controlled the midfield by blocking any attack from the midfield and also initiated most of the Eagles' attack on the Pharaoh's goal area. In attack, Moses Simon and Taiwo Awoniyi became torn in the flesh of the Egyptian defense as they found it too difficult to contain anytime they were with the ball.

Indeed, the performance of the three (3) times African Champions in the ongoing AFCON have proved beyond all reasonable doubt that they are a force to reckon with when it comes to the AFCON 2022 favourites to lift the trophy in Cameroon. The boys in green and white colours displayed a splendid performance with a spectacular drive from their sensational striker Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City in the 30th minute which gave them the three (3) maximum points to boost their quest to emerge winners of the tournament.

Football-loving fans who watched the match could attest to the fact that the Super Eagles team was a delight to watch looking at their build-up from their defense to attack. They had a complete team looking at players who were introduced into the game by their visionary coach Austin Eguavon who had very little time to prepare his team but has proved beyond all reasonable doubt African local coaches have what it is to build a formidable team that other nations will be scared and would not feel comfortable of playing them. So far, all the matches played in the encounter between the Pharaohs of Egypt and the Super Eagles of Nigeria happen to be one of the best matches seen in the AFCON tournament.

I would at this juncture advise the players to keep their composure, listen to instructions from their coach and his technical staff, guard against complacency, treat every match as the final, and continue to be each other’s keeper on the pitch and outside the pitch to make the unity in camp solid. The team is fortunate to have a coach and his assistants who had played for the National team and had won the Nations Cup and AFCON before and that should serve as a motivational factor to them to try to also make a name for themselves by fighting very hard to win the ultimate prize. The head coach would have loved to follow the footsteps of the former Captain Stephen Keshi of blessed memory won the Nations Cup as a player and also was the coach of the Super Eagles team that won the AFCON 2013 held in Egypt. The sky is your limit and believes once you have committed yourselves to the hand of God Almighty you will surely come out as the Champions of Africa.