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THREE THNGS SUPER EAGLES. MUST DO TO BEAT BURUNDI

Saturday, 22 June 2019

/ by Colin



Time for Super Eagles to begin Afcon campaign


Nigeria play their first Africa Nations Cup game in six years on Saturday against Burundi in Alexandria.
It would be easy to dismiss the newcomers as fodder for the more glorious Eagles to feed on, but that would be dangerous.
Burundi may be ranked 89 places below Nigeria at 134, the Swallows showed enough grit to go through their qualifying campaign unbeaten against sides like Mali and Gabon.
They also went seven games unbeaten before falling to a 2-1 defeat against Tunisia in their final qualifying game. That unbeaten run also included a draw against Algeria.
In Abdu Razak Fiston, they have a proven goalscorer who finished second on the qualifying goalscoring chart with six goals, just one behind Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo. And in Saido Berahino, they have a proven Premier league performer who knows his way around a football pitch.
So how do the Super Eagles deal with this 

KEEP THE FRONT TRIO APART
Burundi play a a 4-4-1-1 with Berahino playing just off of Abdul Razak and Cedric Amissi pinching in to unleash unexpected venom from inside rather than hugging the touchline.
The key for the Super Eagles would be to break up this rhythm. Collins Jamilu would need to pay very close attentions to Amissi, while Wilfred Ndidi patrol in front of the back four will include a brief to isolate and jam up Berahino, leaving Fiston having to contend with the centre backs on his own.
There is no doubt that they can create something individually, but the threat becomes significantly  reduced and easier to snuff out. In combination, they can be a deadly unit.

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CONTROL THE MIDFIELD
Gael Bigirimana is the most experienced player in the midfield, with high level experience in England under his belt. But he tends to sit a little deeper than his central midfield pivot, leaving him with plenty of real estate to cover in order to protect his back four.
Passing combinations and suck movements will make that job much more difficult for him and also exploit those spaces to make direct runs at the back four, or sweep the ball out wide to take advantage of the pace of Nigeria’s wide forwards.

ATTACK FULL BACK WEAKNESSES
One of the biggest weaknesses in the Burundi team is their fullbacks, especially the left side. Coach Olivier Niyungeko usually drafts his left centre back to cover for the errors of Christophe Nduwarugira, who can be attacked with skill and pace (although he tries to nullify the pace element by staying home as much as possible).
But the foot skills of either Ahmed Musa, Henry Onyekuru, Moses Simon or Samuel Chukwueze will prove a nightmare for the left back and is the one area where the Super Eagles should attack relentlessly, switch players to and just punt away with pace, skill and combination passing.
If the centre backs step out to help, it leaves space in the middle for Odion Ighalo to attack If Bigirimana does the same, more holes open in midfield for Iwobi or Etebo to exploit.

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