1. First in the interest of full disclosure, b/4 the game I thought was the likely result, and a good result for the SE, and I still think it is.. But watching this Tunisia team today, and contrary to what I thought before the game, I felt we gained a point, but lost an opportunity...Why?
2. Tactically, this game offered more options for the SE, with the luxury to allow the opponent the initiative and to play on the counter, or go for an outright win in the latter stages. Conversly, the return match offers only one option- a must win!
3. What we saw today is a young TUN team, 18-24 months removed from a being a finished team. It has no outstanding individuals (Chikhoui being injured) and no defining team character. Rather it is held together by cautious tactics, decent team organization and the humility of self awareness.
4. In defence, the installation of Adeleye as a starter completes the quartet, with additional options to guarantee competition for places. His performance spoke volumes about the ill-judgement of our extended use of Shittu whose commitment and boundless enthusiasm, masked a deficiency in intelligence and the value of a ball playing defender.
5. There are two segments to any analysis of this game. From a cautious/defensive approach, from the 25min onward, our overall play was largely competent, with Olofinjana's muscular presence an important disruptive influence, which allowed Mikel to keep the ball, control possession and leave the Tunisian MF quartet with a few lessons on possession football.
6. However, in much the same way as Amodu has waffled in his comments on the value of possession and MF play, what to do next appeared lost on us, even as the the Tunisian attempt at pressing tactics floundered.
7. IMO our best chances for success were always going to come from wide areas. We needed a central striker to hold his position and have all others play around him..It required that our controlled possession game look to isolate the wide players with the opposing full-backs. But the success of this also required the classic away game center-forward to drag the CDs away and allow runs from MF.
8. The choice of Ike Uche as central striker was curious, and underlies my long held doubts of Amodu. Yes Uche has played centrally at club level esp at Recre. However, their understanding of his need for space made them position him in wide areas, isolating the defenders and using his strength in 1v1 situations. Today, Uche was a wasted asset, where we could've positioned him to float between the lines, playing off a pure LONE forward.
9. What is worse, the sudden decision on playing Eneramo is baffling. Although talented, Eneramo is at least 1yr removed from being a credible option for the SE.. He cannot play with his back to goal, not esp threatening aerially and is yet to fully grasp the kind of runs he should make, when and where. Watch YAK or Obasi in that role, esp the former and you'll understand what I mean. Or Akpala in Paris.
10. The match in Abuja is a must win game. There are no other tactical options besides looking for an outright win from the first minute, which in turn presents possibilities for Tunisia on the counter. But the real challenge is in our ability to break down a packed and deep-seated defence.
11. It requires that we use possession and MF largely in an attacking sense; that we learn the pass and move, in a team often lacking clear ideas in the last third and overly dependent on individual technique in breaking down defences.
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