It is End of an Era

It is End of an Era

BY KUNLE SOLAJA
South Africa on Saturday proved that winning a mach is not about the duration of camping, but how tactical you are! Match reading ability is essential. So also is ability to gather credible intelligence about the opposition. Those were the lessons handed over to Gernot Rohr and his band of Super Eagles as they were handed a 0-2 defeat on home soil.
It is the second time since 1962 that Nigeria had lost an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at home. The first time was the 2-3 loss to Congo in the opening game for the 2015 edition.
Great Tokelo Rantie! Despite the scoring ability of the man who had scored two goals against Nigeria before, he was often left unmarked. That is a stocky player Nigerians will never forget. He had scored three goals against Nigeria on the lovely Uyo stadium pitch. He easily put Bafana Bafana on the victory path when he strategically positioned himself to nod past clay-footed Daniel Akpeyi in goal for Nigeria in the second half.
While the Super Eagles were desperately searching for a leveller, South Africa in a counter attack doubled their lead as Percie Tau rounded up an advancing Goalkeeper Akpeyi to compound the Super Eagles’ woes.
Even though third on the log of four teams, the Nigerian side remains, the only team in Group E that has not scored. Even the routed Seychelles managed to put a last minute goal past Libya on Friday night.
And so, Gernot Rohr’s short unbeaten run has been cut short. It is the first time South Africa beat Nigeria in a competitive game and also the second time Stuart Baxter led South Africa to beat Nigeria having earlier done that in a friendly match 13 years ago in Johannesburg.
Focus has now shifted from Nigeria beating South Africa to when last did Nigeria beat South Africa. One has to look back to nearly four years ago at the 2013 Nelson Mandela Challenge. The Bafana Bafana have now not extended their unbeaten run to 18 matches, the longest current streak in the African continent.
They are now confident of beating the Super Eagles on any ground! If there is any redemption left for the Super Eagles, they will have to wait for nine months when they will be away to Seychelles on March 23 the same day the two front runners, Libya and South Africa will be meeting in South Africa.
Intelligent Baxter! His assessment of the Nigerian side was very accurate. He had plotted out every possible scenario. The match virtually followed the script he had written. He plotted every stage of the game from the beginning to the closing stage.
His plan of curtaining the Super Eagles in the first 20 minutes worked and his intention was to get the team frustrated. Then to open up in the second half. That was the stage his team got the two goals. It could have been more, if Nigeria had not been saved by the wood work in the 69th minute.
The South Africans have proven that the Super Eagles can be beaten at home. This will undoubtedly boost Cameroon’s hope of picking points in the next major assignment, the World Cup qualifier in August.

RESULTS SO FAR
FRIDAY
Group E: Libya 5-1 Seychelles
Group A: Sudan 1-3 Madagascar
SATURDAY
Group B: Malawi 1-0 Comoros
Group C: Burundi 3-0 South Sudan
Group B: Cameroon 1-0 Morocco
Group K: Zambia 0-1 Mozambique
Group I: Botswana 0-1. Mauritania
Group J: Niger 0-0 Swaziland
Group K: Guinea-Bissau 1-0 Namibia

1 Comment on this Post

  1. Dr. 'Tunde "Tee" Akinbinu

    This came from the heavens. Excellent. Delivered impeccably.

    Reply

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