Super Eagles’ interim technical adviser, Augustine ‘Cerezo’ Eguavoen has charged his attackers to ensure they pick all chances that come their way in order to rain goals during Tuesday’s World Cup play-off decider against Ghana, megasportsarena.com reports.
With seconds ticking away rapidly ahead of the 6pm kick-off at Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja, ‘Egu’ admitted that his attackers were not at their best during the first leg that ended goalless on Friday in Kumasi.
In the 33rd minute, Victor Osimhen forced a save from Ghana’s goalkeeper, albeit his shot was tame, and seven minutes later Joe Aribo made a terrific run into the box but his effort went over the bar and, in what was Nigeria’s best chance of the game, Moses Simon had his shot saved.
The Eagles now head into Tuesday’s decisive game knowing they must score to stand a chance of qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar, and Eguavoen is hoping to see a different lease of life upfront, as he charged his attackers to be clinical in front of goal.
Fortunately, there is strength in depth for Eguavoen, as he is able to pick a fresh starting 11 if need be, with suitable alternatives in goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, as well as defenders Abdullahi Shehu, Kenneth Omeruo, Semi Ajayi and Calvin Bassey.
Other midfielders that could step in are Frank Onyeka and Akinkunmi Amoo, while experienced forwards Emmanuel Dennis, Sadiq Umar, Odion Ighalo and Ademola Lookman are capable of starting in place of those that fired blanks in Kumasi.
Onyeka, who stepped into the second half of Friday’s game in Kumasi, could start alongside Peter Oghenekaro Etebo and Innocent Bonke on Tuesday as the Eagles look to tackle the menace of Ghana’s power in the middle, but ‘Egu’ acknowledged that the biggest impact must be upfront.
He is now aiming for better ideas to improve on Friday’s show, in which the Eagles created more chances but failed to make hay, even as the Moroccan referee, Rédouane Jiyed reversed his initial decision to award a penalty kick in favour of Nigeria after VAR indicated an infringement by Kelechi Iheanacho.
The Eagles will also hope to take full advantage in the reverse fixture in Abuja and pull through to Qatar 2022 in front of 60,000 fans after Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) secured approval from Confederation of African Football (CAF) for maximum capacity at the arena.
Eguavoen acknowledged the role that would be played by the fans, but stressed that the biggest effort should come from his strikers, as he stressed: “We have to take the game to Ghana.
“We’ll try to work on how we will give some final balls to our attackers to have easy passage to goal. We tried to take it to them (on Friday).
“They were also very tough at the back especially the defence led by Daniel Amartey. He was good, Amartey was good I can tell you.
“The goalkeeper was good as well but we had two or three clear cut chances we should have buried but we were not just calm enough in the box.”