Okala: Eagles Improving With Every Game; But Goalkeeping Still Worrisome

Okala: Eagles Improving With Every Game; But Goalkeeping Still Worrisome

Emmanuel Okala has hailed the Super Eagles’ inspiring showing in their 2-1 win against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Wednesday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal match, saying it was a stand out performance which confirms that the Gernot Rohr’s men raise their game in every single match, Completesports.com reports.

Winner of the AFCON in 1980 in Lagos, the former Enugu Rangers goaltender says the Eagles have continued to water Nigerians’ appetite for a possible title triumph in the Pharaohs’ land on July 19.

“I watched a Super Eagles team that showed they are indeed serious in the AFCON tournament,” Okala who is called ‘Man Mountain’ because of his intimidating height told Completesports.com.

Emmanuel Okala

“I was impressed, I believe every other Nigerian was, not just about the fact that they won, but also about the team’s quality of play.

“They seem to get better in every game. Surely, they have learnt from the Madagascar blip and are now out to fire from every cylinder.

“(Odion) Ighalo was the standout performer in the game against Cameroon. Certainly, he was going be a marked man against South Africa and Rohr responded well by drafting a different match plan that caught the Bafana Bafana team off their strides, hence the goals came from the scorers they least expected.

“It shows the strength of the team, their quality. Every player on the field is a potential scorer,” Okala stressed.

Despite his glowing words for the three-time African Champions, Okala raises concern about the team’s goalkeeping department.

“We still have some worries in the goalkeeping area. It is not about sounding as an alarmist, but that’s a fact,” the one time Super Eagles goalkeeper trainer said.

By Sab Osuji
(pix: by Ganiyu Yusuf in Cairo)

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  • Frank 2 years ago

    Very know because north africans teams are known to be shooting always from outside the box but still my worry is ighalo,he lacks this hungry goal poacher/instinct African strikers are known for

    • Dr. Drey 2 years ago

      “but still my worry is ighalo,he lacks this hungry goal poacher/instinct African strikers are known for”
      Ighalo has scored 10 goals in 11 matches for SE in the last one year…pls tell us which other African strikers have a better scoring record over the same period.

      • Steve 2 years ago

        Dr.Drey he may be right , his counts may be awesome but his positioning sometimes is nothing to be desired .He had at least two goal scoring position to tap in during South African match but to no avail !!..He should build in his goal scoring instinct the more and get Nigeria the cup , it is now or never !!..Algeria can’t stop us if he and his teammates do the needful !!

        • Dr. Drey 2 years ago

          Well, you may be right, and you may be wrong, but majority of the balls being put in the box during that game, especially from Musa, were either being him or ahead of him. Most times when he managed to free himself from the 2 central defenders hounding him, his support cast just couldn’t locate him. Maybe we should stop laying all the blames on Ighalo. There used to be a midfielder called frank lampard who was a master of ghosting into the space vacated by the central defenders marking the striker. That was what Chukwueze did to nick the 1st goal. The 2 central defenders had their eyes on Ighalo leaving a huge space in between them and the defensive midfielders. It was this space chukwueze exploited for that 1st goal. Maybe our midfielders (especially iwobi) should start doing that. Likewise, Ahmad musa too needs to improve with his end product. Ighalo on his part should communicate more with his support cast…..he needs to tell them how he wants his balls (into space or unto feet)….he needs to tell them how and in what directions he makes his runs. The chap just needs partners who understand him (just like troy deneey in his watford days). Keeping central defenders busy is enough job for Ighalo. Others should play for him and with him…!
          But as for his “lack of goal poaching instints”…i seriously doubt that. The numbers doesn’t show that. It wont be a mistake to say he’s one of (if not) the most prolific striker(s) in Africa currently.

          • 9jaVision 2 years ago

            I think they are referring to the one cross Samuel put across on a plate for him, but he was nowhere near that which was pretty dismal for a striker, that would have been the easiest goal he has ever scored in his life, had he only anticipated something that looked very obvious indeed, that if Chukwueze had gotten past that last defender which was also very obvious he was going to, then he was going to put in the perfect cross which he did, but Ighalo sadly was nowhere near, quite dissapointing really but there’s no use crying over spilt milk and also we won the game, but I think that’s what everyone is going on about in that regard although I am not in agreement because yes, he did miss that one golden chance through a lack of anticipation which is a strikers bread and butter but I wouldnt go so far as to say he is not a good striker both for us and all the club sides he has played for so far because he has been a very good striker over his career so far
            Same goes to those criticizing Musa, they need to pipe down because Musa is invaluable to the SE, he is also a constant pest to defenders and a nightmare to play against!

  • Kayode 2 years ago

    Apkeyi is not at it best in this competition at all, the only time he was tested in the match against South Africa we all saw what happened,I don’t really know what happened to Izoho but Apkeyi is not helping matter at all.

  • Abah-fada 2 years ago

    Funny enough, people will never give credit where or when it is needed.

    I bet you, if news for instance reach us from Egypt that Ighalo is injured and won’t be fit for the Algerian game, the same people who criticize him will be the first to be jilted out from watching the match.

    @ Frank, did you actually follow the SE throughout the world cup/ AFCON qualifier and even the tournament in Egypt properly. I really don’t think you did bro, because if you do, you will withdrawn your statement about Ighalo.

    He is currently the most dangerous striker as far as this year AFCON is concern take it from me.

    As for the Algerian team, the are a familiar foes, we know them very well, i dont think our boys will underestimate them, they have the arsenal to hurt us real bad if we go to sleep and think the game is done and dusted on paper or on previous meeting.

    The desert foxes have not lost any game since this campaign stated, that is a statement they would want to prove against us.

    But, the same way we take the game to the Cameroonians and South Africans will not be different from the Algeria game.

    Our boys knows what is at stake, and I believe they won’t compromise that for any reasons.

    Go SE of Nigeria.

    • My brother u re very correct pple of Nigeria will never appreciate what they have I bet u if ighalo is to be from another country he would have been the song on the lip of every Nigerian, apart from ighalo and mane who else has scored 3 goals in this competition? for me igahlo is the most dangerous striker in this tournament and he has proven it,all he needs a a better passes from the midfielders

  • Xhuxhu 2 years ago

    The Legend Baba Okala has made legit observations, we are improving game after game but Akpeyi nah heart attack pill, the guy doesn’t inspire confidence at all.
    @Dr Drey-Beautiful analysis, wish our team will watch their games and improve on those crosses from the flank. I feel whenever those crosses come in we should have slept two in the box with the centre forward in a most advanced position and one of the wingers on the opposite end of the cross.
    Just like we pointed out before the SA game, our defense should be on alert for counter attacks. Those North Africans are good in counter attack.
    The Super Eagles should also be on the alert for North African football gimmicks, the will fall, scream at any touch.
    We wish this team all the success they need at AFCON 2019.

  • Samson Oyeyinka 2 years ago

    Can we for once appreciate Akpeyi. He was brilliant against Burundi and South Africa. If he has more game time. he will improve. Let us not come here always to dress people down knowing fully well that some of us can’t do 0.1% of what these guys are doing. Learn to be constructive always. Ighalo is good but can be better. He needs to cut down calories so he can improve his pace. That is the only problem. He couldn’t match the pace of Musa and Samuel. But in all he is experienced and better than all our forwards. We just hope Henry and Victor can get some playing time to prove their worth also.

  • Akpeyi does not inspire confidence at all.

  • Ololo 2 years ago

    ….those criticizing ighalo wait till he bags the afcon top scorer award then you would agree the man is good..

    Which top scorer in world football doesn’t miss chances. This man has three goals already same with mane who has missed two penalties in this tournament yet worshiped in Senegal, if igahalo miss a single penalty Nigerias would rain thunder and brimstone on his family and children unborn.
    Plz let learn to appreciate this guy’s, if you watch igahlo closely you would notice he is giving his best, every game he plays central defenders are yellow carded just to stop him.. He is really a beast.

    To akpeyi he might not be the best in the world but he is presently the best we have for now. Those complaining should mention the one that they feel is better let us see them.
    Not many have noticed Rohn organises his team to protect akpeyi. He knows his deficiencies and makes sure his defence adequately protect him always.. Not many have noticed we are the only team with the lowest number of cards and also none of our central defenders have been beaten via a dribble, also none of our central defenders have received a single yellow card..
    This is stability.. I remember fews ago the major problem in all our super eagles squad for any tournament was our defence.. It has been the weakest position but now our defense is so strong and organized.. Thanks to rohn a formal German defender.

  • Ighalo can actually be slow in reacting sometimes. He also scores when the ball comes to him and not when he has to run after the ball. He needs to put in more effort as he tends to lack concentration and give up too easily.All thesame thumbs up to the man