Good morning guys, So let’s talk about the CHAN.
I’m not sure how long this post would be but let’s give it a crack and if we don’t finish today, we can always have a part 2 and 3 etc, depending on how much we cover. Cool? Welcome.
First of all, I’ll like to congratulate the CHAN Eagles. They fought valiantly. They got us to the highest position we ever got at the CHAN. With little preparation, harp hazard camping conditions, injuries etc. They still made it to the finals. They shook off the disappointment of the first game against Rwanda, they trudged on all the way to the finals. If you’re looking for the definition of the Nigerian spirit, that’s it right there. In flesh and blood.
So whatever happened? Yes, going into the game, we were not favorites. The North Africans were. They were playing a lot better than we were, they were playing infront of an incensed home support and a referee whose stock began to fall the day someone claimed he was the best in Africa. The target for the Eagles was the quarter finals but they got to the finals. So in a way, they got their target box ticked. But why make it to the finals if you have no plans of winning? So they gave it a shot. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.
Salisu Yusuf made bold selections for the finals. Okpotu had had an OK tournament till the time, but somehow Salisu felt it was ok to introduce a new weapon in the final. It backfired. Peter Eneji was unfit and after a poor first period and a first half yellow card, perhaps he ought not to have resumed the second. At least you can judge how your players are performing and make the bold call. Isn’t that why you’re the one this country thrust into the dugout?
A second yellow before the 50th minute and that was it. A comeback was now near impossible and our push for it saw us severely punished by an opponent clearly “turned on”. And so the goals began to rain – from the left, right, center. Dele Ajiboye ended up conceding more goals than Ikechukwu Ezenwa who had played more games. If we had any doubt as to the quality of the match ups, we were now very convinced that this was men against boys.
Was the margin primarily a result of the numerical advantage? We may never know but a quick reminder that in the first half, they had swarmed all over us with constant ease. It was surprising how that at the end of the first half, they were only one goal up. It should have been more. They deserved more. Our defenders were brought down to earth, our midfielders ran out of steam and our strikers, out of ideas. And from the technical area came the now very familiar disposition of “Look guys, I don’t know what I’m doing”! We see it in our match venues all over the country.
I guess a lot of what I’d told above is not alien with you. You can agree with most if not all. But this is only a Part 1 of this article. There’s a second part and it may not be as forgiving and nice as this first post but it addresses the crux of the matter. I think it is important that people who talk realize that it’s about time we took the decisive steps to improve our football. Do we lack talent? No we don’t. What we are lacking is rather “man-made”. We lack the structure (animate), the structures(inanimate) and the know-how to get back as the best in Africa.
Word count for today is up. Let’s discuss this further in tomorrow’s edition.