When we won our first AFCON title in 1980, we had a Green Eagles squad that relied on wing play. It was our strongest asset. In fact, the team conjures up its magic from Segun Odegbami and Adokiye Amiesimaka from the right and left flanks respectively.
The story of our second AFCON title in Tunisia ’94 will be incomplete without mentioning the exploits of a young Emmanuel Amunike whose efforts in the final help brought the trophy home.
In South Africa 2013 AFCON, the Super Eagles has two dashing wingers….Both operating from the right and when both are on the pitch they switch positions to confuse and dislodge the opponents talking about Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa.
Today, football patterns and formations have changed our traditional approach and style of play which won us three AFCON titles and have qualified us for the mundial we have so far participated in.
We have dumped our strength (wing play) for patterns and formations which are strange to us with the excuse that bulk of our players are Europe-based and their clubs adopt these patterns and formations depending on the style, choice and thinking of the club msnagers/coaches……and ever since we have continued to struggle. Our back to back AFCON tourney miss plus the very woeful outings of the Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles in recent times are clear testament to the fact that we have abandoned the speed, power, dribbling skills, pullouts of our talented wingers. We no more launch nor build our attack through the wings where our strong wingers outpace and outsmart opponents leading to goals.
I hope Ahmad Musa will not be our last traditional right winger in this unprofitable so called modern day approach to playing. In sports, you build your team based on your natural strength, talent or gift. It is a gift because it is exceptional. Can we just return to wing play? Can start hunting for the wing wizards who seem scarce in our football presently thus destroying our national team at all levels. When a team lacks creative players or play makers yet do not have wingers to break the opponents defence then, it will just rely on kicking the balls upfront for attackers to keep scrambling with opposing defenders in futility. That was what we witnessed in the recent defeat suffered in the hands of South Africa….
REFRESHING OUR MEMORIES
By Desmond Ekwueme