Friday, July 1, 2011

Nigeria bows out Again but with hope for the future

Nigeria stepped up charged, pumped up and ready to engage the Germans, a game in which many were expecting a goal haul by the defending world champions.But how disappointed were the voiciferous German fans when the home team failed to dominate the Nigerians ?

It was interesting seeing how frustrated the Germans were when they were stretched to the limit by the combative Nigerians.In fact, the Germans were booed of the field by their own fans at the end of the first half with the game goal-less.

The tough tackling Nigerians fought gallantly from the commencement of the game until the final blast of the referee's whistle but did themselves in with erractic passing from midfield and the frequent loss of possession of the ball which accounted for the Germans gaining advantage when on the break.

Ngozi Uche got her first team selection spot on when she employed a more comfortable 4-4-2 formation with Oparanozie and Michael up front.I wonder what could have been had Cynthia Uwak been on this team. Not like i'm crying over spilled milk.Although Nigeria worked hard,the central midfield duo of Chikwelu and Nkwocha lacked bite with Chikwelu being a huge disappointment in my opinion,her reaction time for pass reception and delivery was exceptionally slow which really cost her team the needed flair against the Germans.

Nkwocha on the other hand won most balls but failed in her pass completion.
Ebere Orji although aggressive was not much of a threat to the Germans but for her 18 yarder which missed the mark narrowly.
Mbachu wasn't effective on the flanks as a winger but covered the pockets of space Garefrekes would have taken advantage of.

Ukaonu,Ohale,Ikidi and Ebi in defense held the fort bravely but for the 55th minute goal by Germany which briefly left them shaken.Ukaonu and Ikidi were stalwarts in defense,winning and distributing balls excellently. However Ohale was a pillar in defense with her fearless but some what crunching tackles which stunned the Germans to her teams advantage.

In attack Oparanozie and Michael held their own but had no supply of quality passes from midfield. Nigeria battled fiercely but created fewer chances,they worked as a unit but lacked creativity. As they head home to clinch an Olympic games place,I hope the technical team take the valuable lessons learnt  at the world cup and build on them to ensure a better performance should  they qualify for London 2012. Once again Nigeria has failed to  live up to the expectation of their fans or clear the doubts of many who branded them as also runs at the world stage.

The bright side of Nigeria's story is that, there are young talented and vibrant players ready to step up to the challenge in the near future. The onus now falls on the administrators and stakeholders of the women's game to put the necessary structures in place so as to ensure an exponential growth of the sport on all fronts.

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