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Can Keshi’s Eagles douse the Flames in Blantyre?

Can Keshi’s Eagles douse the Flames in Blantyre? By Patrick Omorodion After struggling to a slim 1-0 win over Namibia in a 2014 World Cup qualifier at the U.J.Esuene Stadium

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قديم 06-09-2012, 06:51 PM
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افتراضي Can Keshi’s Eagles douse the Flames in Blantyre?

Can Keshi’s Eagles douse the Flames in Blantyre?

By Patrick Omorodion
After struggling to a slim 1-0 win over Namibia in a 2014 World Cup qualifier at the U.J.Esuene Stadium in Calabar last Sunday, the Super Eagles will today face the task of battling another youthful side, the Flames of Malawi in the second game of the qualifiers inside the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.

Eagles’ lynch pin, Ikechukwu Uche who missed close to half a dozen chances against Namibia has promised a better outing against a Malawian side that is ranked 27th in Africa and fell from 102nd to 107th position on the FIFA world rankings released during the week.

Stephen Keshi, who heaved a sigh of relief when Uche finally nicked the lone goal that gave his side the maximum points to climb to the top of the table, assured Nigerians after the pulsating encounter in Calabar that he would still need to work on the entire team to make it better subsequently and today’s match presents that opportunity to see if he has really done as he promised.

The host side are not taking the encounter likely either as their coach, Kinnah Phiri has said there will be no escape route for Keshi and his wards, promising them an afternoon of fireworks from his more youthful players who will be buoyed by their noisy supporters who have acquired hundreds of the popular vuvuzela to unsettle the Eagles.

Speaking to a Malawian newspaper, Nyasa Times in Blantyre, Phiri said, “I don’t care if Nigeria carries their whole contingent of stars to Blantyre but one thing they should not expect when they come to our home is mercy. We will give them pound for pound as my players are younger an energetic.”

After the slim 1-0 win over Namibia, light skinned Uche said the reason for the missed chances the Eagles experienced was improper blending as the players were still trying to get used to playing together and that is what the Malawian coach wants to capitalise on today.

While stressing that playing in the 2014 World Cup is not their target but the 2013 Africa Nations Cup, Phiri said, “We play as a team while Nigeria depends on individual players and that will be their undoing in Malawi.”

Home-based players seem to always come to Keshi’s rescue. Seven of them who featured against Namibia in Calabar proved they were beginning to mature while their much more exposed foreign-based counterparts continue to flounder. Foreign-based defender Efe Ambrose did little to justify his inclusion in the squad while the home-based he paired, Godfrey Oboabona, Gabriel Ruben and Azubuike Egwuekwe stood like rocks against the Namibian attackers.

Malawians have always admired the array of stars Nigeria has. In 2003, they could not help but applaud the Eagles, especially then captain, Austin Okocha whose every move they cheered when the Eagles beat them 1-0 on the same pitch during a 2004 Nations Cup qualifier.

That may not be the story today as the Flames’ Chief Supporter, Raphael Nasimba has said every thing would be done to unnerve the Eagles for their team to triumph. This includes the purchase of hundreds of vuvuzelas and the “the painting of the stadium red to intimidate the Nigerians.”

Stand-in captain of the Eagles, Vincent Enyeama was not really tested by the Namibians in Calabar and he could prove impregnable for the Malawian attackers like he did against Argentina and world’s best player, Lionel Messi at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Keshi however, needs to work on the Eagles’ midfield which proved weak, overworking Obiora Nwankwo who tried to contain the forays of the rampaging Namibians in Calabar. If diminutive Ejike Uzoenyi could dribble less and send precise crosses from the wings, Uche and Victor Moses could break the back of the host and consolidate leadership of the group with maximum points.
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Can Keshi’s Eagles douse the Flames in Blantyre?

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