“While we would have loved to have the UK –based players on the trip, I am enamoured by the fighting spirit of those who picked shirts. They delivered with aplomb and this has certainly provided depth for the squad going forward, now, we must sustain the momentum".
These are the choice words of Amaju Pinnick on the performance of the team in Cape Verde and the need to consolidate on the performance of the team.
Olusolasportspedal writes on how the team should build on the momentum of this great team performance.
In The Begining
It was a cold feeling among the coaching crew when the news broke that the UK based Nigerian players won't be allowed to prosecute the Super Eagles World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde in Mindelo.
The coaches delayed the release of the list of players that will prosecute the first two games in the 2022 World Cup qualifying series combing the nooks and crannies of Europe.
The coach is faced with the dilemma of looking for players that can successfully replace the regulars which are composed mainly of Uk based players, from Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Joe Aribo and the defensive pair of William Troost Ekong and Leon Balogun.
When the list of players was eventually released, two relatively known and uncapped players made it into the standby list of seven players. These are Innocent Bonke of Malmo FF and Kingsley Micheal of Bologna in Norway and Italy respectively.
The other five players were fringe players who still need a convincing performance to cement their stay in the team.
Two goals from Kelechi Iheancho against the Lone Stars of Liberia ensured that Nigeria started on a good note and the fact that seven UK based started games underlined their importance in the team.
The Silent Fear And Hope
The tension was high, the coach heart was beating faster as the Cape Verde game is fast approaching as the reliable UK base regulars exited the team's camp, the coach adequate replacement and quickly too.
The coach drafted in the seven players on the standby list and preparation continues, another bad news erupted from the camp of the Super Eagles as Tyrone Ebuehi and Samuel Kalu won't be available for returning positive after the routine COVID-19 test.
This left the team more depleted as the number of more familiar faces that won't is available for the Cape Verde game increased to nine.
The Magic Moment
The coach was able to put the chestnut out of the firewood by fielding a different set of players in the midfield and achieve a result in Cape Verde, as all the players selected were able to step up and give adequate replacement for the regulars.
The team gave a spirited performance coming from a goal down to win by 2-1 giving the Super Eagles a strong wing to fly through the group as they continue their search for the seventh FIFA World Cup appearance
The players also lay down a marker for a starter's shirt in the coming games with their performance on the day.
One thing we can not take away from the victory and performance of the team in Cape Verde is that fact no player is too important for the team that his absence will be greatly missed as the coach made six changes to the team that started in Lagos against Cape Verde.
The result has also shown that the nation still has a lot of talent, that all they need is just a chance to express themselves.
The professional attitude of the new boys like Kingsley Micheal and Innocent Bonke depict this assertion, they were disciplined, tactical, technical and their ability to read the match perfectly brings a new preposition into the Super Eagles midfield.
Let the coach take full advantage of having this new addition around, give everyone the chance to lay claim to the starters' shirt and take the advantage of the efficiency that will come with the competition for shirts.
A healthy competition will bring out the best in the team as the regular starters will be forced to put a convincing performance to retain their position and it will also breed a quality squad depth that will help the immediate and future ambition and aspiration of the Super Eagles In terms of performance and result
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