World Cup: Day of decision for Eagles in Cuiaba

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The Super Eagles take on Bosnia-Herzegovina tonight in what is a make or mar match for the African champions. Anything less than outright victory over debutants Bosnia will cast a huge shadow of doubt on the chances of the Super Eagles to advance from group F. This is so because the Eagles face albatross, Argentina in the final group match.
The Super Eagles opened their campaign in the 2014 World Cup a drab 0-0 with former Asian champions Iran on Monday and have come under serious criticism from Nigerian football fans and analysts. A day before the 0-0 draw, group favourites, Argentina struggled to beat Bosnia 2-1. It was a scrappy win for the South Americans and the performance of Bosnia against their more illustrious opponents is now a source of worry for the African champions.
After the super Eagles failed to break down the resilience of Iran, nobody is sure of what will happen today in Cuiaba. Bosnia will certainly approach Eagles with more confidence and determination to pick the maximum points.
Consequently, Eagles have a mountain to climb. Unfortunately, reports emanating from the team’s camp are not encouraging. It is now an open secret that the camp of the team is anything but united. The post match conference granted by Stephen Keshi is said to have infuriated some of the players who felt slighted by some of the comments made by their manager.
The coach was reportedly blamed some of the players for the failure of the team to beat Iran. It was reported that he mentioned returnee Osaze Odemwingie as one of the players who did not play to instructions. The player he openly criticised is not known for cowardice and will surely find a way of exonerating himself. For a team faced with two crucial matches to prosecute, such blame game can only worsen the .
Besides the blame game, the camp of the Eagles has been hit by injuries. On Thursday, the Media Officer of the team, Ben Alaiya issued a press to the effect that defender Godfrey Oboabona will miss today’s match but may be available for the last group match against Argentina. Furthermore, Oboabona’s defence partner, Kenneth Omeruo is battling with injury and may not play at full capacity against Bosnia. Ahmed Musa who played the entire duration of the match against Iran is nursing injury likewise Reuben Gabriel whose battle with groin injury is no new story. There may be other injury worries which have not been made public.
In addition, the Eagles are not completely done with their appearance fee row as the prevailing peace is said to be cosmetic. To make matters worse, the row over appearance fee has degenerated into a silent squable between the sports ministry and the with the new sports minister Mr. Tammy Danagogo allegedly blaming the NFF for the players’ agitations.
The present state of things in the Super Eagles camp may not inspire so much hope but the coach and the players are still confident they will beat Bosnia to brighten their chance of progressing to the knock-out stages.
First to express the confidence was the president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Aminu Maigari who said the team will advance to the knock-out stages. “ remain optimistic and confident that the Eagles will still qualify. Certainly, the Government and people of Nigeria were expecting victory in this game, but that is football for you.
“I have spoken with the Head Coach and he knows as well that victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina is non –negotiable. The team will do what is necessary to earn the three points and then face Argentina with courage,” he said.
Coach Keshi also shared in the president’s optimism as he maintained that Eagles World Cup far from over as he said his team will do everything to win its remaining group matches.
Team Skipper, Joseph Yobo, said the focus should be on the game instead of talking about the past game against Iran. “We are all disappointed that we didn’t win against Iran but we refocus on the immediate task of winning our next game,”.
Although he has not been spared injury worries, the youngest member of the Super Eagles, Kenneth Omeruo also expressed readiness to give his all to ensure the Eagles triumph over Bosnia. “It will be a delight to see how Edin Dzeko and I slug it out in the game and hopefully they will play an open game and we will also which will make the game very interesting”.
Echoing the optimism of the Eagles is former Green Eagles player, Coach Kelechi Emetoele who told SHOT! that if the team puts its house in order and quickly, it will qualify from the group.
He said “It is not over for the Eagles. At least they are yet to lose a match. Victory over Iran would have brightened their chances but the draw is better than defeat.
“If the Eagles put their house in order, they would beat Bosnia to stand a good chance of progressing. Argentina will not be easy but they are also beatable,” he said
Former Super Eagles midfielder, Dahiru Sadi also believes it is not yet over for the Super Eagles. According to him, if the Eagles play as a team, they will beat Bosnia and at least draw with Argentina to qualify from the group.
“It is too early to write off the Eagles. Even though they could not beat Iran, from the match statistics, it was obvious that Eagles dominated the match. Their ball possession was massive only that they could not score.
“This is to say they did not play too badly. We should encourage the players as they go into the next match against Bosnia. If they are encouraged, I am confident Eagles will win against Bosnia and get at least a draw against Argentina,” he said.