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 Post subject: The Effectiveness Issue
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:45 pm 

Joined: Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:13 am
Posts: 2669
There were many issues at hand at this World Cup, but it must be noted that when it came to Nigeria, Morocco and Senegal there were many positive aspects:

- Controlling the game,
- Good passing and ball control,
- Playing out their own game plan,
- Physical strength,
- Good defensive structure.

There were two glaring weaknesses, albeit Rohr and Nigeria seemed to really improve on that during the tournament:
- executing and defending set pieces - not only did Africa concede many preventable goals from setpieces, but I do not believe they scored a single one.
- centre forwards effectiveness.

Since the time of Eto'o, Drogba and (yes) Gyan Africa is really struggling with quality strikers. Salah and Mane are good goalscorers (off of a tough season and Salah with injuries), but they aren't centre forwards. And that really hurt the effectiveness of all three teams in front of goal. Give those teams an Eto'o, Drogba or Gyan and they would be winning easily.

Right now Africa's best strikers are Pierre Aumerick Aubemeyang (23 league goals, Gabon), Moussa Marega (22 league goals, Mali), Karl Ekambi (17 goals, Cameroon), Vincent Aboubakar (15 goals, Cameroon), Bertrand Traore (13 league goals, Burkina Faso), Nicholas Pepe (13 league goals, Cote d'Ivoire)

Morocco tested El Kaabi vs Iran, but that failed. They maybe should have stuck with Khalid Boutaib vs Iran instead of experimenting with El Kaabi, who failed dismally. I'm pretty sure that had Boutaib started Morocco would have made a breakthrough, as he proved very decisive in breaking down defences vs Portugal (even though Morocco didn't score) or Spain.

Senegal has been struggling scoring for some time now. Yes, they don't have a prolific goalscorer right now, but Oumar Niasse has been a clinch, if unorthodox, player for Everton scoring 10 goals with limited playing time, while Moussa Konate with 13 league goals is Africa's most prolific striker in a top five league present at the World Cup (counting Salah as a winger). Meanwhile Cisse went for Mbaye Niang, who has just 1 Senegal goal to his name and very limited club succcess.

Nigeria - and this must be underlined - won qualifying by being effective in front of goal. But they showed none of that effectiveness this year. I blame the coach for two things.

a) Iwobi was a key factor in making Nigeria effective on the counter - with his good decisions on the break. Etebo as dynamic as he was - messed up too many attacks by overdribbled or shooting instead of passing. Iwobi had a stinker vs Croatia, but he could have done so much better than the players that played. Benching him was a massive mistake. Especially vs Argentina, given he was key to unlocking the Argentines in Noveber. I bet Messi and co were very happy to see Iwobi on the bench.

b) The insistence on Ighalo - Ighalo has been played so often and was given so many opportunities, but constantly never looked like a goalscoring threat. He did a Yakubu vs Argentina, but the signs were there for so long. Ighalo should have been dropped months ago and either give Iheanacho all the opportunities possible to get him on key or find another striker instead of Ighalo. Even Simy, who had a great end to his club season. Else Kayode or one of the Belgium players. Ighalo was always a recipe for failure.

All in all Nigeria was not the effective, deadly attacking machine from 2016 and 2017. Instead they were timid and messing up chances.

All in all though it's worth noting that Africa's problems aren't so much in the midfield now or even with creative players. It's a dearth of strikers that is effecting African football at the moment. Go back to the 90s and we had loads of quality strikers. Now? Few and far between.

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