Archive for the 'Friendly' Category

Thoughts on The French Friendly

Becks get subbedI must admit, when I saw the starting line up for England before the friendly against France I was a bit dissappointed because it reminding me of the McClown reign. But I will refrain from the Cappello rants because I’m still giving hime benefit of the doubt and also remembering that Rome wasn’t built in one day.

Instead I’d imagine that Cappello was using this game a means to identify which ol’ guard to drop and what formations best utilizes the players he has on hand. Now England performance wasn’t dreadful but it wasn’t inspiring either, they managed to keep ball possession (for the first half anyway) and were a bit structured. But what was quite evident was the lack of width and creativity from the England side and this I think should let Cappello know that the reign of Golden Balls has is neigh. Becks lacked pace, it said a lot when Wes Brown was overlapping him down the flank,  as well as the ability to taken on oppossing defenders one-on-one. Sure his has great pinpoint passing but when you standing around pinging passes you and your team mates become predictable therefore very easy to defend so those passes pose no threat to the opposition. Terry’s performance was quite as forgettable, which is uncommon for the lad, his man-marking wasn’t consistent and his mental lapses occurred more than usual. Micheal Owen in my book shouldn’t be in an England squad again, plain and simple. On the formation front, Cappello needs to drop the lone striker formation business. England does not have an out-and-out center forward and should starting looking to partner Rooney with someone. And what was more telling this that most team in today’s football are more adept and defending lone-striker formations especially when you don’t have a scoring threat from midfield.

So I’m looking to see quite a few changes in terms of personnel on the pitch and formation for the friendly against USA. Speaking of the USA friendly, I was happy to see ol’ golden balls get his 100th cap against France because, to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the media frenzy/arse kissing ESPN would be engaged in towards golden balls had he gotten that cap against the USA.

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Nigeria 2 Mexico 2

Mexico - Nigeria

The scoreline does not paint a true picture of this friendly. Mexico were by far the better of the two sides, they played with more flair, creativity and intensity. The Mexican wingers carved up the Nigeria defense all day and is a true mystery as to why the scoreline remained tied at the end of ninety minutes.

In fact Mexico were actually down two-nil mainly due to the brilliance of Obafemi Martins, his speed was a constant headache for the Mexican back four and his brace were goals to be admired. That was the only positive for the Nigerian performance in the friendly tie. From the game one could clearly see that the players were still adapting to Vogts new style of football, the long ball, but it doesn’t excuse the lack of effort displayed by the Nigerian midfield. They gave away the ball cheaply and too often (especially Obi Mikel), they had difficulty creating open plays in the midfield and were not all too impressive with their defensive duties either. The defense did not fair any better, they failed to close up who they were marking, they ball watched a lot especially as crosses were coming in and were always half a step behind the Mexican attack.

I’m sure the Nigeria team would be happy leaving Mexico, a very tough view, with a tie but there is a great deal of work to be done by Vogts on the Nigeria side, especially with their set pieces, and I do hope the question raised by this game will be answered soon enough.

Mexico-Nigeria Highlights (YouTube)

In Other News:

Wayne “the wonderkid” Rooney finally ended his 3 year plus goal drought in an England shirt in the Three Lions’ 3-nil win over Estonia. Again Barry impressed and has cemented his place in the side whilest keeping Fat Frank comfy on the bench.

Vogts and The Eagles

Obafemi Martins

This weekend brings the Premier League break so players can return to their respective countries for international duties. So what we have will be a string of Euro 2008 qualifiers and international friendlies. Normally I would be writing about England’s forthcoming match against Estonia but thinking about it depressed me after realizing that McClown is running the show and he is still a player-pleasing-clueless FUCK!!! So I turn my attention to writing about my favourite team….The Super Eagles.

Granted I have not written much about the Nigerian National side, and that will change, I’ve merely been sitting back and watching the workings of the new coach Berti Vogts. His appointment was a shock to me; I tried tirelessly to figure out how the buffoons running the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) could prize away such a football legend away from other clubs/national teams. Do not get me wrong I loved the idea of having Berti Vogts as the Super Eagles National head coach (he bring huge benefits which I’ll look at later) but we are talking about the NFA here, an organization rife with corruption and political in-fighting.

As I mentioned before, the hiring of Mr. Vogts brings huge benefits, one of which instant respect from the players. Past coaches have had troubles controlling the Super Eagles players and to some extent some players were arrogantly making demands to the coaching staff. None of that will fly with Vogts, the man is a legend and when he speaks the players will listen…he can even drop big name starts without reprieve easily. Another benefit of Vogts is that he knows fully well the politics of football and how to handle them. From demanding a 3-month advance salary before taking the helm to picking his own coaching staff (even after the NFA had appointed him one) Vogts has shown to the NFA he is no push over and the running of the national side will be done how he sees fit. He even has strayed away from only picking big name players and has gravitated towards little known Nigerian players, some with dual nationality, as he seeks to build a team with the European Football philosophy of keeping the game direct and simple…something the NFA would have cried bloody murder in years past.

While I like all the moves Berti Vogtz has made they still need to be backed up on the pitch if he wishes to remain head coach. Guiding the Super Eagles to finishing top in her 2008 African National Cup qualifying group is a good start (W5-D0-L1) but honestly it was a weak group. The true test of Mr. Vogts philopshy will come with the string of friendlies which start this weekend against Mexico and then Jamaica. I’m eager to put our disappointments of past years (a la losing our World Cup qualification to Angola….ANGOLA!!!!) and start looking forward to greener pastures, COME ON SUPER EAGLES!!!!