Are the Super Eagles ready to face their Group-A AFCON opponents?

Friday, September 26th, 2014

With the first of their AFCON qualifying matches looming, the Super Eagles are now working hard to ready themselves for this event. Nigeria have been named as the favourites to win in Group A; however, many say that the Eagles should not underestimate the abilities of their opponents, as to do so could deal a fatal blow to their progress in this important tournament.

Rwanda, whom the Eagles are due to play in Group-A, have been doing well under the guidance of their new manager, Stephen Constantine. Their recent victory over Libya, the 2014 CHAN champions, serves as a testament to how far they have come over the past few months. Coupled with their impressive performance against Congo this month, there is little doubt that they are now capable of giving Nigeria a run for their money. Tunde Folawiyo, and other Eagles’ fans, are probably not too concerned however, given that Nigeria defeated Rwanda quite easily at the 2014 AFCON tournament, finishing with a result of 2-0.

Tunde FolawiyoNigeria will also have to face Sudan and South Africa. The latter are due to play the Eagles at the Cape Town Stadium on the 10th of September. Danny Jordan, the president of the SA Football Association, acknowledged that playing against the reigning AFCON champions at such a huge stadium would be a daunting task for Bafana Bafana. He added that for Shakes Masaba, who has just joined the club as head coach, this would be an especially gruelling experience.

Whilst there is no question that Nigeria have a tough road ahead of them, Olakunle Fayiga, a sports journalist, believes that with Keshi at the helm, they will have little difficulty in retaining their title. Discussing the coach’s many achievements during the past three years – from helping them to win CHAN in 2013, to leading them to their best World Cup performance in almost two decades in 2014 – Fayiga praised the dedication and discipline which Keshi has instilled into the team during his time as coach.

The journalist noted that, due to the respect which Keshi commands, there are now no longer any issues with players failing to honour call-ups, or showing up late to training camps. Fayiga finished by describing the Nigerian as being superior, in terms of his coaching skills, even to Clemens Westerhof, a man widely considered to be the greatest coach the Eagles has ever had. This is a bold statement, but it is one which many fans, including Tunde Folawiyo, might agree with.

As an Eagles supporter, Folawiyo likes to use social media to keep up to date with events in the world of football. To read about his thoughts on this subject, follow Tunde Folawiyo on Twitter.

Keshi and Nigerian President discuss results of CHAN | Tunde Folawiyo

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Fans of the Super Eagles experienced mixed emotions after the team won the bronze medal at CHAN. Some were thrilled with the results, whilst others felt that the players could have done better. Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian President, seemed to be pleased with Tunde Folawiyothe Eagles’ performance at CHAN, rewarding the players with a prize of N31 million after the tournament. Speaking in Abuja, at a dinner which he hosted for the team, he said he had been particularly amazed at how well they had played in their match against Morocco, which resulted in a 4-3 victory.

Keshi, the Super Eagles’ manager, also said that he was delighted with how the Eagles had done. In a press conference, he expressed his gratitude to the Nigeria Football Federation, who had supported him and the team throughout the tournament, and praised the players, whom he said had followed his instructions well, and performed admirably on the pitch. He went on to say that the team were now beginning to better understand his strategies, adding that they had shown a great deal of ‘mental strength’ during their final match against Zimbabwe.

Super Eagles supporters, such as Tunde Folawiyo, might be surprised to learn that Keshi was not disappointed that they had not won the gold; the manager explained that his primary concern throughout the tournament was to determine which players were good enough for the World Cup squad. He then said that he would be taking the same approach to the upcoming friendly against Mexico – rather than worrying too much about the outcome of the match, he would be focusing on which individual players perform best.

With regards to which players he may choose, or exclude from the World Cup squad, the jury is still out. However, a number of sports commentators have suggested that Ugonna Uzochukwu has a good chance of being selected. Supporters like Tunde Folawiyo will probably know that, despite the fact that many people expressed misgivings about his presence on the team early on in the tournament, Uzochukwu performed outstandingly well, giving the Eagles their first goal in their match against Morocco.

Rabiu Ali is another player whom commentators believe might make it to Brazil this year; his consistently reliable performance in midfield, coupled with his ability to create goal scoring opportunities for others, have played a significant role in the Eagles’ success in CHAN.

Nigeria lose to Ghana in penalty playoff | Tunde Folawiyo

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Shortly before their recent semi-final match against Ghana, the Super Eagles were promised a payout of $100,000 – in addition to the NFF’s match win bonuses – if they defeated their opponents. The same offer had been made before the Eagle’s clash with Morocco last month, and seemed to work well, as the former emerged victorious, with a final result of 4-3. But this time, the monetary incentTunde Folawiyoive simply wasn’t enough; Ghana managed to beat Nigeria 4-1, following a round of penalties taken at the end of extra time. This probably came as quite a shock to fans of the team, like Tunde Folawiyo, as the Eagles have performed consistently well for the past year or so.

During the opening minutes of the match, Nigeria appeared to be the superior side, retaining possession of the ball and attacking with great skill.  However, throughout the rest of the game, neither team managed to gain the upper hand. Ghana came close to scoring in the 10th minute, when Attobrah attempted to kick the ball in from the corner, but the Eagles were quick to defend themselves; in the end, his efforts proved fruitless. Just a couple of minutes later, Ibrahim almost provided Nigeria with the lead, but his shot was just wide of the net.

Ghana was dealt a blow in the 64th minute, when the referee decided to send off Adusei, following his second bookable offence. This left the team with just 10 players, and provided Nigeria with a clear advantage; but whilst the Eagles made several valiant attempts, they were unable to overcome Ghana’s strong defence and as the whistle blew, the score remained 0-0.  During extra time, Afful nearly gave the Black Stars a goal, but his efforts were thwarted by Agbim. Nigeria were given a similar scoring opportunity during the 118th minute, but Imenger failed to convert – by the end of extra time, neither team had managed to score, and the match went into penalties.

Kwambe, the Eagles’ defender, delivered a powerful kick, but the ball never reached the net, as the Black Star’s keeper, Adams, performed a skilful save. Uzochukwu’s endeavour was equally unsuccessful. Ghana’s chosen players,  Ainooson, Anobaah, Akuffo and Attobrah, each scored one goal, and in doing so, dashed Nigeria’s hopes of winning the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) – a fact which is likely to disappoint Tunde Folawiyo, and other supporters. Following this loss, the Eagles must now battle against Zimbabwe for the tournament’s bronze medal.

Super Eagles awarded bronze medal at CHAN | Tunde Folawiyo

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Fans of the Super Eagles, such as Tunde Folawiyo, were most likely disappointed with the team’s recent failure to triumph over Ghana; the loss eliminated Nigeria as potential winners of the Championship of African Nations (CHAN). However, following this defeat, they managed to claim the bronze medal, by beating Zimbabwe in a match held at Cape Town Stadium. Whilst supporters were understTunde Folawiyoandably despondent after learning that the Eagles would not be crowned champions of this tournament, the team’s victory over the Warriors has no doubt lifted their spirits, and given them hope that Nigeria will still perform well at the World Cup.

The playoff, which resulted in a final tally of 1-0, was an entertaining one, with both sides playing skilfully. Just five minutes in, Ibrahim had an opportunity to give the Eagles the lead, but Zimbabwe’s defenders obstructed his path, and no goal was scored. Moments later, the Warriors were given their own chance, when Mahachi took advantage of a counter attack, gained possession of the ball and made his way towards the post; however, there were no players inside the penalty area to convert.

Following this, Zimbabwe lost one of its key players, the midfielder Masimba Mambare, after he was dealt a red card for having struck Chigozie Agbim in the shoulder. This meant that the Warriors were forced to play with just 10 men for more than 70 minutes of the match. Although this should have made things easier for the Eagles, they struggled to push past Zimbabwe’s defence, and both Imenger and Obiozor failed in their attempts to score during the first half.

After the interval, Benjamin Francis suffered an injury which left him unable to participate; Keshi selected Ejike Uzoenyi as his replacement. This proved to be a wise decision, as Uzoenyi played an important role in dismantling the Warriors’ defence line throughout the remainder of the game. Even with the winger’s help however, no goals were scored for the next half hour, and the likelihood of the match ending in a draw appeared to be quite high.

Kwambe’s free kick in the 64th minute seemed as if it might break the deadlock, but the ball ended up just wide of the post. However, with just five minutes left on the clock, Nigeria’s fate was sealed, when Uzoenyi swept past Zimbabwe’s defence and kicked the ball to Obiozor, who promptly headed it into the net. Tunde Folawiyo, and other Eagles supporters were no doubt relieved and delighted by this goal, which left the Nigerian team with the bronze medal.