I do not know how footballers motivate themselves or how they get pumped for a football match of high consequence like the one that would involve the Super Eagles of Nigeria; on Friday evening against the Vikings of Iceland than the outcome of match from a previous night. The general consensus is that the Eagles were poor in their opening match against Croatia which led to a defeat that put the hopes of the Nigerian team of making it out of the proverbial group of death in jeopardy. With such a lethargic performance comes the genius suggestions and tactical input from every street corner in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano; Nigeria should do this, the coach should do that; what has been generally agreed is that something must change. Now what is that thing that has to change; some have called for wholesale changes, others have asked for a tactical switch; all I ask for is a change in attitude.
On Monday, whilst on air at Lagos Talk studio for Sports Zone; a fellow pundit stated that; he is not sure that the players of the Super Eagles realize the consequence of their bad showings on the pitch and how much it hurts the over 180 Million people; who are divided among religious and ethnic lines with Football being the sole unifying factor. I tend to agree with him; most times the players exhume a very lackadaisical body language and this really gets on the nerves of the fans. It is this attitude that I believe needs changing; their feelings, dedication and resolve you be there for all to see on the field of play.
The Super Eagles need to play with a lot more verve, commitment and dedication; this is hoping a few changes would be made to the first eleven. With the defeat of Argentina; the door is wide open for the Super Eagles to take advantage of the situation; three points against Iceland, puts Nigeria back firmly in the equation to qualify from Group D with the final game against a deflated Lionel Messi led Argentina side.
I expect the Super Eagles to line up in a more attacking and back to the basics 4-4-2 formation; even though reports from the seem to say different. I believe this formation gives the team a lot more balance and flexibility; whilst exploring one of the team’s core strength which is pace; allowing John Obi Mikel sit in central midfield with Wilfred Ndidi (the best tackler in the team); hence Alex Iwobi is given a free role to set the tempo from the left wing position whilst coming centrally in a bid to inject some creativity; which has been lacking in that central position. The Full backs play a very vital role; I would love to see Tyrone Egbuchi return to right back with Brian Idowu providing the width when the team attacks from the left back position. Upfront; Odion Ighalo needs help; he has been an isolated figure in the last three games the Eagles have played; in comes Kelechi Iheanacho to provide the support and also serve as a link between midfield and attack.
To get the desired result; the Super Eagles have to play with an upbeat tempo, determination, focus and maximum concentration, not conceding silly fouls or set piece opportunities; all the chips are down, the die is cast; it is now or never. If the Super Eagles cannot get a win against Iceland on the strength of what has happened in this group so far; then maybe we had not right been at this World Cup in the first place.