The lack of creativity in the midfield of the Super Eagles is fast becoming a conundrum that needs to be solved as soon as possible, otherwise, it may spell doom for the country as the 2022 World Cup qualifiers hit the business end and the 2022 African Cup Of Nations is around the corner.
The midfield is called the engine room of a football because it is a department that connects the defense to the attack, where most of the action in a football match takes place.
It is where chances are created for attackers to score goals. A department where teams fight for the possessions of the ball. Because a team with the higher possession of the ball has a better chance of winning the game.
The defensive midfielder wins the ball, and the attacking midfielders it and make the best use of it.
This is done by distributing the up-field hence they must possess the ability to open up defenses and create scoring chances for the strikers to score the goals.
They use dribbling skills, speeds, take-one and intelligent moves in getting the work done. They are good freekicks and corner kick takers and sometimes do get some goals to help the team further.
The level of their creativity determines the easiness they get all these done. Every successful team must have one creative genius or improvise a winning style that will provide creativity for the team.
The lack of creative midfielders or a style that provide creativity in the Super Eagles became glaring during the last 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Central Africa Republic played in Lagos.
The Super Eagles open up the defense of the Les Fauves despite dominating possession as the team wasted 23 freekicks, 13 corner kicks with no shot on target and only one clear chance created.
Here are the three possible ways of solving the problem;
- Scout for natural number ten(s)
The first solution to the problem is to scout for natural number ten players. These are the players that possess the skill sets of a creative midfielder to describe above.
I believe they are out there, the NFF and the technical department needs to be more daring in looking for Nigerians or Nigerians that are eligible and willing to play for Nigeria.
Names like Akinwunmi Amoo, Micheal Olise, Ovie Ejaria, Nwankali, and Tijani etc comes to mind. The coaches to explore this avenue and see how far it solves the problem at hand.
- Convert players into the creative roles
The other way of solving this conundrum is to convert players into creative roles. Players with flair and dribbling skills can be given specific instructions on the pitch, linking the defense to the attack and a lot can be achieved creative wise with good guidance from the bench.
Players like Chidera Ejuke, Alex Iwobi can be adopted for these roles, with a bit of discipline and focus they can fit into the creative role in the midfield of the Super Eagles.
- Adopt the Westerhof method
Clemence Westerhof was the manager of the Super Eagles between 1989 to 1994. He won the African Cup of Nations and qualify the country to the first-ever FIFA World Cup in 1994.
The coach achieved these successes by creating a style that provided the team with lots of creativity through the wing play and they score lots of goals with it.
The majority of the team’s creativity came from the wings, where Finidi George and Emmanuel Amuneke held sway.
Their effort was supported by the precise long pass from Sunday Oliseh to the attack. The Super Eagles at presently constituted has enough wingers to make this work.
The likes of Simon Moses, Samuel Kalu, Ahmed Musa needs to improve on their take- and delivery of the final ball.
Wilfred Ndidi ball-winning ability is superb but he needs to improve on his ball distribution especially the long pass from the middle to either the wings or to the strikers upfront, for this style to work effectively for the team.
Midfield geniuses like Austin Okocha don’t come every time, hence there is always room for improvising with the materials a coach has on the ground to work with.
Olusola Adebayo is a highly-skilled, enthusiastic, self-motivated writer with over 10 successful years of experience.
Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.