Ahead of the doubleheader between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Mediterranean Knights of Libya, with Nigeria needing all six points to stand a healthy chance of qualifying for the African Cup of Nations to be played next year in Cameroon which will be their first appearance since lifting the title in 2013, Naijafootballplus.com looks at the five areas the Super Eagles need to outclass their opponents for a healthy victory.
Antics: It is very difficult to distance teams from the Maghreb region from antics whether it is a football club or a national team as long as their opponents are from other parts of Africa and the Knights are no different. The major antic is mental bullying, where they try to play the victim and if you let your guard down, they own your ground but with the current crop of the Eagles, these things will likely not matter.
Mentality: The Libyans have a belief that they can achieve anything they set their mind to, and they have done it so far in the qualifying series and are yet to lose a game which is a morale booster. They are not under any form of pressure and are even chasing glory if they succeed but all these can be blotted out with just a convincing victory. A victory convincing enough to cast doubts on themselves. The Super Eagles need to know that they are the better side in all ramifications except the standings which can change over the two legs if they get the desired results.
Momentum: The Mediterranean Knights are riding on the fact that despite playing all their games away from home, they are yet to lose a game and sit on top of a group that boasts of the Super Eagles and the Bafana Bafana of Nigeria and South Africa respectively. This momentum can be put to a stop with a defeat which is very feasible and with boasts of the ability to grind out results from anywhere, winning the momentum game do not sound like an easy task. A break to that momentum in Uyo, will help further the Eagles’ chances of a victory in Sfax on Tuesday.
Tactics: The North Africans are also known for a game plan that is employed from kickoff to the blast of the final whistle. Game plans which have grinded out results for them on the continent and coach Gernot Rohr will need to set up his team with a playing style that will not just thwart his opponents but will also take them out of the game so much that the road to a comeback will be between very far and nonexistent.
Teamwork: If there is anything that has propelled the Libyans to achieve what they have achieved in the continent, it is teamwork. The Knights play as a compact team as everyone plays for everyone else and have their heads in the game at all times. The Super Eagles must have to match them on this and even outclass them with a system that gets them playing like a unit and everyone moves as one. It is expedient to note that Gernot Rohr always picks a familiar bunch of players only introducing new faces sparingly which has kept the team with almost the exact same players, which is a boost to their bonding under Rohr’s tutelage, making team play a very achievable feat in the Super Eagles.
The Super Eagles will play the Mediterranean Knights on Saturday evening in Uyo and on Tuesday in Sfax, Tunisia as they battle to be one of the 24 teams that will participate in next year’s African Cup of Nations billed to be hosted in Cameroon.