Thursday, July 26, 2012

Women's Olympic Soccer:More Work To Be Done As South Africa and Cameroon Stumble In Debuts

Jubilant Portia  Modise
The 2012 Olympic Games Women's Soccer Tournament kicked off with our Africa representatives,South Africa and Cameroon stumbling on their respective debuts. With butterflies in most stomachs,as they wait anxiously, hoping for an upset,Cameroon's Lionesses kicked off against Brazil with so much promise, having come close to scoring in the wee minutes of the game but as was  written in the stars,the Lionesses could not roar.

Brazil's star-studded strike combination was too high a mountain to climb for lowly Cameroon, who although fought gallantly, succumbed to a 5-0 hammering,  dished out by Francielle(7th minute),Renata Costa(10th minute),Cristiane(80th) and Marta(pk73rd,.88th).
On the other end of the isle,South Africa were  pummeled by Sweden by 4-1 with Portia Modise pulling one back with a peach of a goal from a 50 yard shot.

Brazil executed a calculated tactical plan, a blue print of how not to play against them.With a 3-5-2 formation, the Brazilian midfield enforcers neutralized all efforts made by Cameroon by maintaining possession of the ball,accurate pass distribution and selection, marshaled by the evergreen Formiga whose vast experience brought a calming effect into the Brazilian team as she dictated the pace of the game with passes to the flanks which stretched the Cameroonian defense immensely, leading to unanswered runs by the Brazilian on the wings resulting into goals.

Marta had an easy day at the office with her silky smooth passes and mesmerizing off the ball runs which created tons of problems for the inexperienced Cameroonian defense.  Brazil's ability to execute set pieces to perfection dented all hopes of Cameroon making in roads in the game, when Francielle's spotless free-kick opened the flood gates for a barrage of goals later in the game.

One would think Cameroon's defense would have an answer to the lofted corner kick perfectly taken by Francielle,who connected with Renata to register the second goal,considering the aerial superiority of their defense, but that was not to be.You see, defending set pieces has always been a nagging problem for most of our African national teams and Cameroon is no exception. One wonders why to date, the problem is still prevalent. Defending effectively begins with the accuracy in positioning of player and ball,spacing between player and ball and timing of player and ball.Both teams erred in this department and the earlier this is addressed the better.
Another aspect of the  game which should be mastered by both nations is winning back possession quickly, once possession is  lost.Had most of the balls lost been won at the same rate they were lost, perhaps the goal tally would have been less.Maintaining focus,composure and tactical shape should be the watch word of both nations going forward.

South Africa played some fluid possession soccer  towards the end of the game against Sweden but were plagued by their inability to regain possession of the ball in a timely fashion.Comparing the percentages in ball possession between South Africa and Cameroon, although they both played opponents with different playing styles,Cameroon needs to address this issue quickly in order to impress as the tournament progresses.South Africa on the other hand needs to build on the little they showed in this department by making their ball possession productive.

It is still early days  and our African representatives have nothing to lose but a lot to gain if they show up in subsequent games, having corrected their mistakes and buzzing with confidence.There were flashes of brilliance from individual players like South Africa's Amanda Sister and Portia Modise,Cameroon's Francoise Bella and Christine Manie but the collective effort and tactical discipline is urgently need.
 Keep your head up ladies !

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