It has been three days since the cataclysmic collapse of the Super Eagles at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium and the triumphant fightback from the Leone Stars.
Now the war of attrition will be more psychological on Tuesday – will the Eagles seek redemption by improving their performance or will the Leone Stars be so buoyed by their fightback they will give over 100%?
Before last Friday’s encounter between the two countries – their 15th meeting in 59 years, the Leone Stars had only ever scored 11 goals against the Eagles but in one fell swoop, they scored four times against the Nigerians – scoring the last three in 16 frantic second half minutes.
Football has a lot to do with crunching data, but the 4-4 result last Friday was totally unexpected.
On Tuesday at the Siaka Stevens pitch, it is the team in the best frame of mind and the one that capitalises on the mistakes of the opponent that will triumph.
After the collapse last Friday, Eagles defender, William Troost-Ekong said, “Even if we had won the game 4-0 yesterday there are things that we still have to improve.”
According to Adebayo Gbadebo, a Nigerian coach managing in the Thailand league, the team needs drastic improvement, especially in the middle of the pitch.
He told PREMIUM TIMES from his base, “the No.8 [Oghenekaro Etebo] and No.10 [Joe Aribo] did not play as progressively as they should have. They attempted and completed too many sideways passes.
Mr Gbadebo also believes the technical team could have helped the team much more, especially after the Eagles conceded the second goal to the Sierra Leoneans. “The team needed more stability in front of the back four because they were continually exposed as the Sierra Leone team sensed the fragility of our centre backs.”
After the match, Nigeria Football Federation’s president, Amaju Pinnick, tasked the team to quickly redeem their image by beating the Sierra Leoneans 4-0 on Tuesday, an appeal Mr Gbadebo called a pipe dream. “Tuesday’s encounter will be an uphill task for the Eagles, and they need to be at their best to get a positive result from Freetown. These Sierra Leoneans have got the taste, even though the Eagles have much better players in their ranks.”
There are some injuries and suspensions that will hamper the preparations of both Gernot Rohr and Sierra Leone’s John Keister.
Victor Osimhen has gone back to Italy to treat his dislocated shoulder while Umaru Bangura will be missing for the Leone Stars after picking up a yellow card last Friday.
One of Nigeria’s scorers last Friday, Samuel Chukwueze, reiterated that the team had since moved on from the disappointment of last Friday and they are looking forward to putting things right on Tuesday.
“What is important now is to beat them right there in Freetown and we are ready for the task ahead,” he said.
Nigeria still leads Group L of the 2021 Nations Cup qualifiers and if they beat Sierra Leone on Tuesday and Benin cannot beat Lesotho – the Eagles will pick up their ticket for the tournament that the country has won three times.