Indiscipline Made Teams Performs Low in Semis.

July 17 09:36 2019

The indiscipline seen in the African Cup of Nations has gone to a palpable stage with a total of 165 yellow cards or 3.3 yellows per match, which in football stands for caution to erring players. The four standing teams in the semifinals bagged a total of 29 0f the 165, seven of this was what the four teams received at the semifinal stage.
Tunisia that lost to Algeria had eleven so far while Senegal is second with 8 yellows and Nigeria is third with 7. Of all the units when you look at which one has the highest percentage of 30% and above, it is Tunisia with 37.9% of yellows received by the four teams that had 29 yellows of the four teams.
Benin Republic got two of the 5 red cards issued so far. They were given to Kaled Adenou and Olivier Verdon. Others were Christopher Nduwaru of Burundi; John Boye of Ghana and Otienor of Kenya.
There were five own goal scorers and a Nigerian has joined the list. William Troost-Ekong scored in his net against Algeria. The goal that made the Terenga Lions of Senegal stroll into the semis was an own goal from Dylan Bronn of Tunisia. Incidentally, Tunisia also had an own goal against Ghana scored by Rami Bedoui. Namibia lost vital points against Morocco in their first group match, with an own goal scored by Itamunue Kaimuine in the 89’.
Odion Ighalo of Nigeria still stands for a possible Golden Booth Award given to highest scorers with his four goals. Other contestants are Sadio Mane of Senegal, as well as both Adams Ounas and captain Riyard Mahrez of Algeria all with three goals each.
The semifinals were matches that brought weeping and gnashing of teeth to some teams while others looked back at the pitch and said, “Thank God we won”. Senegalese Lions battled tooth and nail until Bronn scored the own goal in 100’ of which coach Cisse ordered his boys to pack the train and not the bus according to the philosophy of controversial Coach, Jose Maurinho formerly of Chelsea FC on England.
The match was a balanced match with few shots on target as the players were very tensed up. Senegal could only put a shot on target and Tunisia had two. Senegal had 7 corner kicks while Tunisia had 6. None could take their chances as they played rough to prevent goals against them by any means. In that situation, Senegal committed 27 fouls bagging a yellow and Tunisia committed 29 fouls and bagged two yellows.
It was obvious that Senegal and Tunisia were spoiling for penalty kicks until the goal came. It is pathetic that the two teams had three shots on target, one to Senegal and two to Tunisia in 120 minutes of play and in a continental semifinal. African football cannot develop with kwashiorkor of goals.
The statistics did not represent the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Desert Foxes of Algeria well. The shots on target of Algeria were not impressive too. The team had 4 to Nigeria’s 2. Algeria ought to have beaten Nigeria silly in the first half. Nigeria was unsettled from 20’ of play. It was the only match Nigeria had just one corner kick to Algeria’s two. Although Nigeria still has highest corners of 32 compared to 31 of Senegal; 25 of Tunisia and 22 of Algeria, it was obvious that the performances in all departments of the Super Eagles nose-dived.
The fouls rose and the yellow cards came three in the semis as against 7 in all the six matches played. The back four panicked like a wounded lion hence the unforced error by Troost-Ekong. Daniel Akpeyi was playing in goal like a high school boy not able to control his wall. Watch the video again; you will see he was still looking at his defense when Mahrez took the kick that took out the feathers from the Eagles. A goal scored at 90+5’ showed loss of serious concentration. Do you remember how Italy got an equalizer against Nigeria at the USA World Cup? Nigeria was leading at 78’ and wham! The hope was dimmed. Nigerian teams like sizing up their opponents in the first half, come smoking and dangerous within 30’ of second half and then fizzle out like a busted balloon in 10’ to end of match. I warned in the preview that Mahrez is as dangerous as a rattlesnake when it comes to set pieces especially free kicks within the periphery of the penalty box.
Nigeria has lost a hopelessly played match. Many attribute the loss to thinking that the jersey donned in that match is jinxed. That will need an empirical prove.
There is a swap of positions. Two West African teams were playing two North African teams. Senegal from West Africa won in the first match and Tunisia from North Africa lost. In the second match, Nigeria from West Africa lost and arch rival, Algeria from North Africa won. Nigeria and Tunisia will square up in the Loser’s match on Wednesday at 8pm. The curtain will be drawn on Egypt 2019 on Friday at 8pm when Algeria takes on Senegal who are appearing in the finals for the second time since 2002.
Lastly, the two coaches that led their teams to the finals played for their countries before. The issue of indigenous coaches will be the post AFCON agenda. Nigeria had Chairman Christian Chukwu; the Big Boss, Stephen Keshi; Samsaon Siasia and Augustin Eguevon. It is normal now to see coaches sacked after major tournaments. The sack of Clearance Seedof by Cameroon and other coaches is routine action. But the earthquake that befell Egyptian football after the loss is a novelty.

  • ENIOLA OLATUNJI.
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