Super Eagles versus Fences (or Desert Foxes) is a potential cup final anyday. Reasons for this submission are numerous. But let’s reduce or narrow them down to the fact that both teams won their first AFCON titles beating each other.
Nigeria defeated Algeria 3-0 in 1980 to win her first AFCON trophy which she hosted while Algeria won her only AFCON title 10 years after on homesoil beating Nigeria 1-0 in the final. The memories of both finals make this semi-final tie a CUP FINAL on its own.
Both countries are equal on the strength of reaching the last four…which means they are potential finalists if they do the needful
WHAT EAGLES MUST DO/AVOID
1. EAGLES MUST BE PHYSICAL BUT AVOID CARDS
Super Eagles must be physical in their approach if they hope to grind out a win at all cost in this tie. They need powerplayers like Oghenekaro Etebo and battlers like Winfred Ndidi to bully and cage Algeria. The Algerians are skillful, sleek and pacy hence they always avoid robust tackles or physical cum body contacts.
2. LONGER BALLS WILL DISORGANIZE ALGERIANS
The Algerians are very good in ball possession. They love to knock the ball around. Should Super Eagles adopt same style, they would be playing into the hands of their opponents who obviously will dictate the pace of the game. They have to disorganise their opponents with long balls to cut off their playmakers at least in the first 30 minutes of the encounter.
3. USE TALL CENTRAL ATTACKERS
Algerian goalkeeper is not too firm on aerial balls. Should Eagles launch attacks or take advantage of set-pieces, they would surely need the likes of Victor Osimhen and Onwuachu to try luck with support from the central defensive duo of William Troost-Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo.
4. EAGLES MUST WORK ON COUNTERATTACK
Fast breaks have often left Algerian defenders in tatters as seen in this tournament. Eagles must work on counterattack especially from pacy players.
5. SPEED OF MUSA AND CHUKWUEZE NEEDED
Should Super Eagles rely on counterattack to rundown Algeria then the duo of Ahmed Musa and Samuel Chukwueze must be fully utilised.
6. AVOID OR IGNORE ANTICS OF THE ALGERIANS
The Algerians are good at feigning injuries, diving and taunting the match officials. Eagles must stay away from them when they start these tricks and pretence especially when they (Algerians) are losing.
Again, Eagles must expect their opponents to spit on them, abuse them or even step on when a player is down with injury pretending it was a mistake. They (Eagles) must not run after such player or retaliate. It could lead to marching orders.
7. BE ON YOUR TOES EKONG & OMERUO
Super Eagles central defenders must be at alert throughout the duration of the encounter to cut off wall splitting passes from the Algerians who are very good at this. No complacency….no loss of concentration….and no elementary errors like those of Leon Balogun against Madagascar.
8. AKPEYI, WATCH YOUR LINE
Daniel Akpeyi must be told or taught to differentiate between 6 yard box and 18 yard box. Before the South African goal through set piece, he had moved far away from his goal line….and was in the wilderness when the ball was in flight before bouncing off Odion Ighalo’s back.
Algerians set pieces are very tempting just as their players are full of tricks, Akpeyi must stop his jittery moves…. to read the balls while sailing towards goal before taking any decision.
@ desmond ekwueme