3 POINTS AND 3 GOALS - A JITTERY MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
By Iwedi Ojinmah aka SUYA (CyberEagles.com)
Published June 08, 2009
On paper we were supposed to take them apart like soft warm bread and initially that's exactly what we did when Getafe forward Ikechukwu Uche combined with older brother Kalu and opened the scoring after just two minutes But then the bread fought back and for the better part of the game the circa 60,000 spectators in Abuja sat almost in awkward silence as Nigeria failed to find her rhythm and at times looked downright sluggish against the very physical and game East Africans.
Granted while the Kenyan super star Oliech may not tower above players like Jan Koller or block out the sun like Yekini once did, he plays with as much savvy as both of them combined and as the tip of the Kenyan attack prodded and poked at the Eagles defense all day long. His upper body strength and ability to close on the ball as if aided by the wind, make him arguably the best player the Eagles will face in their group and if he was this disruptive away from home he is going to be extra slippery in Nairobi
Without their big guns like Joseph Yobo, Mikel John Obi and Taye Taiwo who were being rested by Coach Amodu the Nigerian team was young and consisted of the players that had struggled against Ireland and suffocated France in the last two weeks. What they lacked in finishing they more than made up in hustle. Russian based Odemwingie wasted 2 great chances after first of all being set up by Ikechukwu Uche and then drilling jittery Arnold Origi at point blank range instead of slipping the ball past him.
The 2nd half picked up where the 1st left off with Nigeria again sputtering and Kenya becoming more cheeky and controlling the ball by 51%. Oliech almost scored twice within two minutes. First, he chose to square the ball to a teammate with the Nigerian defence on the back foot and seconds later, he again incomprehensibly decided to pass the ball inside the box after he had swept past goalkeeper Enyeama.
That seemed to galvanize Nigeria into increasing their fragile lead and the super sub Kanu took over. First he threaded a sexy ball to Odemwingie who was felled in the 18 and awarded a PK, promptly converted by Nsofor. Then minutes later he delivered again. This time the recipient was Echejile who despite an errant kick by Uche swept past the Kenyans and allowed Nsofor to score his 2nd goal - sealing the deal.
Kenya is now 0- 14 against Nigeria but need not hold their heads. They were a tough resilient team and one really has to wonder that if Coach Hey had not muddled up the water with his MIA drama and continued friction with both the KFF and KFL , if they would not have been more focused mentally and demonstrated more bite.
In any case make no bones about it - Nigeria will need to play much better to draw in Kenya let alone win.Oliech by then would be rid of the virus that saddled him here in West Africa and as absurd as it sounds will be even better. Nigeria now trails Tunisia by 2 points in her group and so to speak can not afford any hick up along the rest of the road. The writing is on the wall. It reads "Remember Angola and Germany".
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