Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi
By Olawale Ajimotokan
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has said he is worried about the midfield play of the national team which has been identified as the department that requires urgent improvement.
The national gaffer was giving this assessment in the wake of Nigeria‘s failure to protect their lead when a second half goal which they conceded allowed Liberia to force a 2-2 in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier played on September 8 in Monrovia.
Though Nigeria has been handed the advantage following the outcome of the match and is in position to surge to South Africa 2013 on October 13, when the second leg is played is played in Calabar, the Eagles have come under fire from the public who felt they should have made light of their of their opponents in the first leg.
While the Eagles rear guard has been subjected to a barrage of criticism after failing to hold out in Monrovia, Keshi in particular, was quick to come to their defence by suggesting that his midfielders were the cause of the goals. He has also promised to plug the gap ahead of the return match.
“Whatever problem we are having is not arising from the defence and attack. Rather the technical crew has seen that the loophole is in the midfield. We are now determined to fix that area before the Liberians come visiting next month. Nigerians will be happy at the end of the day,” Keshi said.
Against the Lone Star, Nigeria started with a midfield comprising Nwankwo Obiorah, Nosa Igiebor, Victor Moses and Ejike Uzoenyi, though there was a slight tactical change when Ahmed Musa was injected as a second half substitute for Moses.
The failure of midfield enforcer, Ruben Gabriel, to shake off a leg injury on the eve of the team’s departure to Monrovia was a major blow to Keshi who had to adjust his formation in the middle.
The Eagles coach has also given Raheem Lawal a look in against Malawi and Rwanda in the qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup and 2013 Africa Cup of Nation, while Fegor Ogude, due to injury and the erratic John Mikel Obi are still to figure in his plan.