Keshi should ring changes, but Eagles need more than personnel swaps

Wednesday 10 September 2014

/ by Colin Udoh
Eagles need personnel, and attitude change to beat Bafana

Stephen Keshi needs to make at least three changes from the team that started against Congo. 
But more than that, he needs his wards to show a total change of attitude. They have to. Their Nations Cup hopes depend on it.
If there was one thing even the players agreed with fans and media on after last Saturday's game, it was that the performance in Calabar was abysmal.
It showed, even on the pitch, with usually phlegmatic players like Ahmed Musa and Kenneth Omeruo losing their cool.
Musa actually admitted privately that he deserved to have been sent off for his shove on the assistant referee in one particular fit of frustration-induced petulance.
And it was a somewhat misdirected aggression, as it was borne of the lack of service he received all game despite making runs in behind.
He was not alone. Fellow forward Uche Nwofor hardly saw any service either, and was reduced to a virtual spectator until he was mercifully subbed for Emmanuel Emenike. 
In midfield, Ramon Azeez barely got a touch. Mikel Obi went missing for large segments of the game and Nnamdi Oduamadi failed to track players, leading to two of the goals.
Ogenyi Onazi, usually the midfield attack dog looked well short of his best, culminating in his giving away a silly penalty kick.
And that came because Elderson Echiejile was caught out of position. Overall, a catastrophic team performance.
That is the bad news.
The good news, hopefully, is that it cannot get any worse.
When they came on as subs, Emmanuel Emenike and Nosa Igiebor were the two bright spots in what was a diabolical performance. They should be restored to the starting eleven ahead of Uche Nwofor and Ramon Azeez.
As much as Oduamadi brings an unpredictable option to the forward line, and one which is supposed to have the key to unlock tight defences, his inability to track like a wide player should proved fatal.
Oduamadi wants to play centrally, where he can influence the game without too much defensive responsibility, not marooned out wide.
If Keshi cannot offer him that, then he is best served keeping him on the bench rather than making him look inadequate.
In his stead, Gbolahan Salami, who did a good physical job when he came on, and even helped himself to a goal should win a starting position.
Sone Aluko is another option, but Keshi sees him more as a support striker, not a wide forward, so he is likely to be a second half forward substitute rather than a wide left starter.
But these personnel changes will count for nothing if the players don't realise that their problems did not stem from who was not on the pitch, but on how they approached the game. Lackadaisically.
South Africa will be fired up. They have a new coach. They have opened with a solid road win. They have a bone to pick. And they smell blood after Nigeria's home stumble. 
It is up to Keshi and his wards to puncture those hopes. It all starts with the right team, and the right attitude.

Ejide, Ambrose, Echiejile, Oboabona, Omeruo; Onazi, Mikel, Igiebor; Musa, Salami, Emenike
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  1. Thanks, Anonymous. Let's see if Keshi agrees. What players would you pick?

  2. Your head dey there Collin

  3. No mention of how Efe Ambrose failed to track down the players that scored the first 2 goals for Congo. smh


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