Opinion: Keshi needs to find the balance and play to our strength [Analysis]

The world cup starts in three days and Nigeria have played 3 warm up matches to prepare for the tournament.

One score draw (2-2 vs Scotland), one barren draw (0-0 vs Greece) and a loss (2-1 to USA).

In all three matches we saw different teams, but the starting XI against USA gives us an idea what the team will look like.

Probable Starting XI vs Iran: Enyeama; Ambrose, Omeruo, Oboabona, Oshaniwa; Mikel, Onazi; Osaze, Musa, Moses; Emenike.

Oshaniwa the easy scapegoat

Oshaniwa is the only unlikely starter if not for Echiejile who was ruled out of the World Cup, Uzoenyi replaced Echiejile.

Using the match against the USA as a case study, Keshi seems to tell his wing backs to make attacking runs and doing that will leave the defense open if no one is covering for them.

At left back Oshaniwa seems to get little or no help,  with Moses not tracking back and Onazi not doing enough to cover the spaces on the left.

 I like Onazi's athleticism, but he seems to be cut out of position a few times due to him chasing opponents down and also ball watching.

Though, a  lot of Nigerian sport pundits blame Oshaniwa for the first goal but from the replays Onazi was caught ball watching and losing his man, taking a look at the goal one more time:

Oshaniwa closing his man, Onazi watching his man also. it is 5 against 4 here.
Ooops! Onazi loses his man while ball watching

Now, it's 5 against 5... Oboabona tries to close down the through pass, Yobo ball watching rather than watch Altidore.
Oh, Easy tap-in for Altidore to score his first goal in 2014...

From the above analysis, Oshaniwa was not to be blamed for the goal. He was jittery though, which could happen to any player but Keshi needs to find a balance as he seems to be obsessed with playing beautiful football maybe due to the fact that the Super Eagles fans are always keen to see beautiful football.

Solution could be playing Uzoenyi on the left to cover for Oshaniwa, Uzoenyi is the only defensive minded winger in the team and in the Scotland match he was arguably our best player.

Playing to the team's strength

Keshi needs to understand the key to been successful  in modern day football is  playing to your strength. We have fast players in Musa, Moses, Emenike, and Osaze that can cause any team problems which means we need to play over the top or play passes into space not to the feet which we did in the last three matches. 

In the USA match, the Americans were happy to just watch us play the hopeless passes and break on the counter.

We need to play more direct passes and play passes into space for our attackers else teams will stay back and  counter us.

Moses could be key

Moses is a very trickery player and he could be our best player at the world cup, but the coaching team will have to manage is talent and let him know when to release a player other than try to take on 5 players. Football is based on team work and the best way to play it is by passing to the next person.

If Keshi wants to keep playing him, he will need to sort out his style of play and tell him to find his teammates rather than try to dribble.


During the AFCON triumph, the super eagles won based on some beautiful counter attacking football especially in the game against Mali where Echiejile, Ideye, Emenike, Mikel and Musa were superb.

Watch the Super Eagles soar vs Mali in the AFCON 2013 semi final:

Does it mean they lost the hunger? Or are we going to see them give their all at the World Cup proper?

I am still optimistic we will go through to the next round and not doing well in the warm-up matches could be an advantage. 

Before the Atlanta '96 success, we lost our last friendly at home to togo 1-3 and lost all three friendly matches before France 98, then went ahead to beat Spain 3-2 in the first match of the World Cup.

Hopefully, Keshi and his coaching team will be able to motivate the players to turn up in the first game against Iran and winning the first game will help the team spirit.

Here is the team I would like to see against Iran:

Enyeama; Ambrose, Oboabona, Omeruo, Oshaniwa; Mikel, Onazi; Musa/Moses, Osaze, Uzoenyi; Emenike.

I will play Uzoenyi because we need cover at Left back. :) You can share your first eleven for the Super Eagles in the comment section.

Stay Optimistic! Go Super Eagles!!!

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