On Wednesday at the Pre Match Press conference, head coach of the Super Eagles Jose Peseiro confirmed that Royal Antwerp midfielder Alhassan Yusuf who had a remarkable debut in the 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea has been ruled of of tomorrow’s game against hosts Cote D’Ivoire.
The News sent shivers down the spine of football loving Nigerians who watched Alhassan against Equatorial Guinea, many opined that the 23 year old was the perfect replacement for the injured Wilfred Ndidi who pulled out of the tournament even before commencement.
With the latest development, it has become pertinent to find a solution to the defensive midfield position ahead of Thursday’s game and even beyond, depending on the duration of the injury.
Alhassan Yusuf did a decent job in the first game, his touches were with finesse, his passes were confidently dispatched and his marking ability got him good ratings .
In his absence, Peseiro is left with Frank Onyeka who hasn’t been convincing, the Brentford man is better off running at players and trying to disposes them, but he’s not in the mould of Wilfred Ndidi or other top African defensive midfield players who calculates well and also offer support in other spheres.
Raphael Onyedika comes to mind, but is he really trusted by Peseiro?, the Belgium based man is the one of the current Nigerian players capable of doing a yeoman’s job in the base of the midfield, man’s highly energetic, intelligent and willing to take his chance.
With a rare opportunity against the hosts, he would definitely be in shape to solidify the midfield for the three time African Champions, although he has to earn it.
There is also a certain Bruno Onyemaechi who can also play the position, but it’s not likely that he gets the nod.
However, the selection has to be right in all department, Nigeria’s heart of the defense is a suspect, the wingers must be well utilized and be played in their traditional roles.
There’s no margin for errors, it’s a very important fixture which the Super Eagles can’t afford to lose.
However, in the words of Coach Jose Peseiro, “God gives and God takes”, we may get it right and play good football and still not win, tactically, I’m not convinced we have a man who knows what it means to be the head coach of the three time African Champions.
Let’s however go enjoy the game and hope for a favourable result as Nigeria aims to do it again in Cote D’Ivoire.