Following yesterday’s 4-3 loss to Sudan that saw the Nigeria U-20s crashed out of next year Africa Youth Championship, Ahmed Ishaya, who followed the Nigerian team on behalf of Owngoalnigeria gives five possible reasons why the boys of Emmanuel Amuneke failed to qualify.
The players of the Nigeria Under-20s underrated their opponents no thanks to the 2-1 victory they got away to the Sudanese and were thinking they only needed to turn up and win this tie without breaking a sweat.
That belief was inflated by the early lead but still it was costly as they drove forward in search of more goals instead of containing their opponent, that act was easily one of their greatest undoing in the tie.
Since winning the U-17 World Youth Championship in 2015 majority of the players who are now part of the U-20 are yet to turn professionals as a matter of fact none in the starting line up has played a minute of professional club football.
It shouldn’t be an issue especially as they have been whipping professional sides in test games but against the Sudanese who were obviously bigger,more physical and pack filled with league players our boys came short no thanks to the nerve of going behind twice, fear crept in where calmness would have been the order for an experience side.
3. Less Technical Input From The Bench
As much as one will always want to praise Amuneke for his technical abilities, in this particular game, his tactics and decision to go all out and attack in a game where a 0-0 draw or even a score draw would have secured qualification for his team tells a lot about incompetence.
At 1-0 they were still searching for goals even at 2-2 and 3-3 despite the fact that at this stage progression is guaranteed instead of holding on to what they have, they went in search for more which ultimately cost them big, a little bit of input from the bench would have made deep drop deep and defend especially after the early lead and the initial threat of Sudan drawing level and taking the lead twice.
4. Poor Defence and Goalkepping
As reliable as Akpan Udoh can be in this particular game although he was severely exposed he committed too many blunders as the last line of Nigeria defence.
The ever reliable central defence pair of Lukman Zakari and Ejike Ikwu were no where near their best against Sudan particularly Zakari although he was on the day doing the job of Ikwu and the full backs who were having an off day which saw him drift out of his primary position.
5. Poor Preparations and Welfare
This is saved as the last because on match day it counts for less but still can’t be overlooked as it played a part particularly with the players knowing after this game they will all be decamped after three months of camping and were unsure about if money will be made available for them to take home to their friends and family.
In the build up to the game, the lads were all about news regarding bonuses they were been owed instead of focusing on the game, that in itself distracted the lads who up until yesterday’s game have only received $400 from the country football body that abandoned the team with funds diverted towards hosting FIFA president Gianni Infantino this weekend.