BY BOLAJI OKUNOLA
The shock 0-2 defeat that South Africa meted to the Super Eagles in the match day 1 of the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 qualifiers has continued to have its ripple effects.
Nigeria’s loss at home, just the same way the road to 2015 edition began, has signalled the possibility of another miss out in the next continental fiesta.
Former national team player and captain, Segun Odegbami, has blamed the loss on the lack of matured leadership of the Nigerian team on the pitch.
Odegbami, a speedy master of the right wing and one of the iconic strikers Africa ever produced told the Village Sports Square that the absence of John Mikel Obi was very glaring in the Nigerian side.
To him, Mike would have brought stability and balance to bear in the Super Eagles’ midfield thus aiding the attacking trio of Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi and Oghenekahro Etebo.
“Mikel is currently the most mature player the Super Eagles have. Although the likes of Winfred Ndidi and host of others are also trying their best but I think, with Mikel’s presence, the Super Eagles would have been able to cage the South Africans.
“I can’t blame the coach. He featured his best players and I think soccer enthusiasts in the country have done their best by giving him free hands to select players.”
“No one can dictate to the coach. I am sure with the few games played under his guidance; he has known his strength and weaknesses.
I hope we can regain our strength in our next games which are very crucial. I repeat, No one can dictate to Rohr but I think the presence of Mikel in the next game may make a difference.”
“I am not saying Winfred Ndidi hasn’t done well, but I don’t think he is ripe enough to coordinate Super Eagles’ midfield like Mikel, would have done”.
He believes Nigeria have to go back to the drawing board to map out ways of getting better results in the next five matches of the qualifying series.
The Super Eagles are currently third on the log and will be away to Seychelles in the next match day in March 2018. While top dogs, South Africa and Libya will meet in South Africa.
Whatever the outcome of those matches, the competition will have to go very deep before Nigeria can emerge as possible leader of the group.