We’re kinda over the halfway point of this international break and it’s been quite interesting so far. The UEFA Nations League (almost typed UEFA Champions League…lol) has given a new feel to the qualifying process for European teams. It’s clear that starting badly will cost most teams. Over in Africa, it’s a clumsy set of results that have emerged with Ghana and Cameroon already having issues. Beyond that though, I have a few things to point out.
THE NIGERIAN SUPER EAGLES: Was always gonna start with this one(s) since their hard-earned win over Seychelles (I call it ‘hard-earned’ because it was a needlessly tough game…how do you struggle to be fluid against a team that is full of non-professional footballers?). 3 points in the bag but I have a million doubts about this team (I always do). It still feels like a work in progress and I can’t understand why. I mean, it’s only Moses that retired! Why are we still seeing a team that 80% reliant on individual brilliance (which is ironic because the team has almost no brilliant players)? I think Nigeria should, by now, be able to start a competitive match without Ighalo leading the line. There are other options FFS!!! Try Simeone, Onyekuru, Iheanacho and, if possible, Mfon Udoh…Just try anyone else!!. AFCON 2019 is a must for the Super Eagles. Rohr had better find a system that works.
ENGLAND: After watching the Three Lions lose from a winning position against Spain, it felt like a Déjà vu. In 2016, it happened at Wembly (yea…same venue) when Isco and Aspas scored in quick succession to render goals from Lallana and Vardy almost irrelevant. The difference was that England didn’t lose on the night but it felt like they did because they started brilliantly and ended so badly that you’d have wanted them to lose. This time though, they did. The issue of controlling a game is England’s biggest problem. Mind you, controlling a game doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the dominant team but then you’re capable of minimizing the damage the other team can cause; while still giving yourself a chance to score goals and win. England haven’t cracked that and they now face Switzerland, who trashed Iceland (made famous by the beating they gave England at Euro 2016) over the weekend. Say a prayer if you can.
MORE FOREIGN GUYS IN AFRICA: In line with Aubameyang (Gabon), Zaha (Ivory Coast), Bolasie (DRC), and Iwobi (Nigeria), more players are switching allegiances to their African roots in this international break. Semi Ajayi finally got his chance to represent Nigeria in the game against Seychelles. I think he did ok but he’ll need time to become a regular. Now, I saw…Saido Berahino (Yea, that guy)… IN A BURUNDI NATIONAL TEAM JERSEY!!!…I remember when he was super keen on playing for England, such that it was a LONG shot for Burundi to get him. He even got a call-up to the England squad as recently as 2014! See life! He couldn’t even get a game at Stoke so now he had to get one playing for BURUNDI! Wow. Elsewhere, it has been reported that Kondogbia (French dude that was fantastic at Monaco, a huge flop at Inter Milan but is now finding his way back at Valencia) has decided to represent the Central Africa Republic. Several years ago, he had a better chance of making the France squad than Kante. Now, Kante is a World Champion. Imagine that.
Finally, let me spare a thought for Clarence Seedorf. I’m not sure he’s supposed to be a manager, let alone a manager of one of the most chaotic teams in African football. His tenure at Cameroon has not got off in the best manner and questions are already being asked about his suitability for the role. He really should have started his coaching career from the Eredivisie.