Completesportsnigeria.com’s JOHNNY EDWARD and ADEBOYE AMOSU examine why the Super Eagles failed to qualify for their second straight Africa Cup of Nations. They come up with 10 reasons for this failure…
1. POOR SELECTION
Super Eagles caretaker coach, Samson Siasia, made some blunders in his selection which played a key part in the team’s failure to beat the Pharaohs in both legs of the qualifiers.
His decision to start Stanley Amuzie at left-back ahead of the more experienced Elderson Echiejile was a big blunder.
Amuzie was disappointing in both games, no wonder he was hauled off at half time in Alexandria.
Also his decision to play Oghenekaro Etebo in the holding midfield role when Ogenyi Onazi was available for selection in Alexandria following his suspension for the game in Kaduna was also questionable.
Siasia also persisted with Ahmed Musa when it was obvious the duo of Moses Simon and Alex Iwobi would have done a better job.
2. ODION IGHALO’S FAILURE TO REPLICATE CLUB FORM
Much was expected from the Watford man, but he never lived up to expectations over the two legs. His inability to replicate his club form for the Super Eagles has no doubt cost the team a place in Gabon 2017.
3. POOR PLANNING
The Super Eagles were earlier scheduled to travel to Alexandria immediately after the first leg in Kaduna, but the Nigeria Football Federation later altered the plan.
Instead the team left the country on Monday and following a two hour delay at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium, add that to the two hours they spent on the road from Kaduna to Abuja, it was a long and tortuous journey that affected the performance of the team.
Not only were the players unable to train properly after arriving late on Monday, they looked rusty on match day.
4. NO CO-ORDINATION BETWEEN MIDFIELD AND ATTACK
The Super Eagles lost the battle in the middle of the park and that contributed to their defeat against the Pharaohs.
Captain of the side, Mikel Obi, started the game brightly, but fizzled out afterwards.
Watford striker, Odion Ighalo, was left isolated upfront as he didn’t have much support from the midfielders, leaving Victor Moses as the team’s only attacking threat.
The defence was also overworked as there was no proper holding midfielder to shield the back four.
5. SIASIA LEFT IT TOO LATE WITH HIS SUBSTITUTIONS
Though he made a good decision in substituting Stanley Amuzie at the start of the second half, Samson Siasia like he did in the first leg waited too long before bringing in fresh legs in the game.
The decision to keep Ahmed Musa and Aminu Umar on the pitch despite their poor performance when there were better options like Alex Iwobi and Moses Simon on the bench backfired at the end of the day.
6. OVER-RELIANCE ON ODION IGHALO
Odion Ighalo going into the fixtures against Egypt had failed to score in seven English Premier League games for Watford and only scored once for the Eagles in his last six games before the game against Egypt.
That was a sign for coach Samson Siasia to call up a quality back-up for the 26-year-old that he could bring on when the going got tough.
Siasia had in his arsenal Aaron Samuel who wasn’t fully fit and Fanendo Adi who was in the team for the first time.
Ighalo was a shadow of himself in both fixtures and he didn’t force any crucial save from the Egyptian goalie in 180 minutes which is a cause for worry going forward.
7. PRESSURE ON SIASIA TO GET EAGLES JOB PERMANENLY
After impressing his handlers with the U-23 job, Samson Siasia allowed himself to be caught up with the pressure of being named the Eagles boss on a permanent basis.
So he made some poor decisions, including bringing in too many players from the U-23s who lacked the needed experience to see off Egypt over two legs to qualify for the 2017 Nations Cup.
8. SIASIA’S HARD LUCK
Twice coach Samson Siasia has taken over from two of his team-mates (Austin Eguavoen in 2011 and (Sunday Oliseh 2016) and failed to qualify for a major tournament.
His teams have played decent football but have been rather unlucky. A last-minute equaliser to Egypt in Kaduna, where Victor Moses had a shot cleared off the line, was probably the moment that ultimately eliminated the Eagles.
9. FOUR MATCHES, THREE DIFFERENT COACHES
Stephen Keshi started the qualifiers as head coach, while Samson Siasia ended it. In between, the Eagles had Sunday Oliseh as head coach. These frequent change of coaches meant the line-ups constantly changed as each coach brought in his own men. The changes sometimes led to quality players being dropped for favoured but less talented players, changes in systems, formations and tactics.
These changes ended up being detrimental to the team.
10. NIGERIA’S POOR AWAY RECORD
The foundations for the Super Eagles’ failure were laid in their first qualifier. In Sunday Oliseh’s first match, the Eagles struggled against Tanzania in Dar Es Salaam and were lucky to escape with a draw.
As they were drawing in Tanzania, their major rivals Egypt were spanking Chad away from home, laying down a marker. In the end, Nigeria got a paltry one point from two away matches as their dreams went up in smoke.