The U23 team of Nigeria are faced with the task of overturning a two goal deficit in the return leg of the Africa U23 Cup of Nations after losing 2-0 to Libya in the first leg played in Tunisia yesterday.
Coach Imama Amapakabo watched helplessly from the side-lines as his team conceded two goals in each half and also finished the game with ten men following the sending off of goalkeeper Abubakar Adamu.
Sports&study.org picks five possible reasons why the team failed to get a favourable result ahead of the return leg in Asaba.
Goalkeeper Crisis: The fact that Adamu Abubakar became first choice goalkeeper despite not making the original squad speaks a lot about how the team struggled to pick a shot stopper after age discrepancies knocked out two of the invited goalkeepers.
Nigeria U20 goalkeeper Olawale Oremade who was also drafted in as cover rose to the choice of second choice, a sign of how desperate the team was in the area of goalkeeping.
Inexperienced Central Defence Pair: Joshua Akpudje and Stephen Egbe were both playing at this level for the first time and it was clear to see from the way they played in the game. Although they spent longer time in camp they didn’t quite have the understanding expected of them.
Poor Substitutions: The decision to sacrifice Dennis Bonaventure when goalkeeper Adamu Abubakar was sent off came as a surprise because he was posing to be a threat. Many would have thought that Blessing Olabiran should have made way instead of the Club Brugge forward.
Bad Playing Surface: As expected the players of the Nigerian team struggled to cope with the poor nature of the pitch in Tunisia which was synthetic. They kept on losing their balance in key areas with some of them changing their boots midway through the game.
Lack Of Tactical Awareness: At 1-0 down the decision to push high up the pitch despite playing with one man cost the team dearly and led to the second goal conceded. A tactically sound team would have defended deep and play on the counter with the pace of the forwards the team had in attack.