by ‘Ifreke Inyang
It’s not time to press the panic button, but we certainly should be worried. Forget the 6-1 scoreline from Monday night. Nigeria desperately need players, who can simply tuck the ball into the net. The days when we used to have powerful, hungry and clinical forwards like Rashidi Yekini, Samson Siasia, Daniel Amokachi, etc. are now a distant memory. Perhaps, it is more shocking that Segun Odegbami, who stopped playing for the national team in 1982, is our second all-time highest goal scorer with a measly 24 goals. Yekini, of course leads that chart with 37 goals.
Let’s move on quickly from those not-too-impressive stats. The Super Eagles were not crowned African champions by luck. I won’t buy that. A certain Emmanuel Emenike, led the line brilliantly. It was a such a refreshing sight to have a battering ram in the national team. A player in the mould of Didier Drogba, who will not only bully defenders, but knows where the goalpost is. His physical presence has been sorely missed since he picked up a thigh injury. We can’t also deny we haven’t missed Victor Moses’ trickery and width or Ogenyi Onazi’s bite and aggression.
However, against Tahiti, a side making its debut in an FIFA organised competition, the profligacy took on embarassing proportions. Emenike’s deputies, Brown Ideye and Anthony Ujah, failed their auditions woefully. 22-year-old Ujah, who surprisingly stands at 6’1, was Stephen Keshi’s preferred starter. The FC Köln striker, who was largely anonymous, as Musa and Oduamadi provided action from the wings, latched onto a loose pass and sprinted towards goal, where he came face to face with Samin, in goal for Tahiti. Faced with the option of squaring the ball to Echiejile, Ujah attempted a weak dribble and the keeper gathered the ball comfortably. Ideye was no better when he came on. Apart from trying desperately to get on the end of an own-goal, the only notable thing he did, was miss two sitters, although he set up Oduamadi for his hat-trick.
Surely, we don’t expect to have as much possession against Uruguay and Spain, which logically implies there will be fewer chances created. The game against the South Americans will decide if we will go an further in the Confederations Cup. Even the biggest believer knows too well, that we will not get a sniff against Spain. Interestingly, the Spaniards most times favour the ‘false nine’ formation, where they start with six midfielders and no out and out striker. It is a problem ever country prays to have. However, ours is a simple one. We need to start looking for players that can score, when we manage to create the chances.