Apart from the bragging rights, it's a shame that a country with this amount of talent at its disposal wouldn't qualify against Ghana for the World Cup. There is no disrespect to Ghana because after missing the last one, they came with more determination to get this over the line. After the initial 0-0 in Ghana for the first leg, they only need to defend and wait for their chance to hurt Nigeria and that's what they did.
I know it's easier to fault every decision of the coach especially when the game didn't go the way we wanted but still, I feel the players lacked the attitude to get the game over the line against Ghana. I saw how we lost possession many times and the players failed to even chase the ball. I don't know if the players feel too big or too confident that they would beat Ghana on home soil but it didn't do them any justice since it became their undoing.
A lot of players were trying to do too much; show off and I don't think that's necessary for a game of this magnitude when your opponent is the one holding the advantage. We held on to the ball too long and didn't release the ball at the right time. There were aimless crosses into the box which would definitely be a fruitless effort anyway.
I feel we lacked the needed push to qualify for the World Cup despite playing better in this leg. It's normal to play better at home and Ghana bombarded us in the first leg at home too but cut a frustrating figure for this second leg even though they got the needed goal and with the huge rivalry between both countries, it's a shame they had to do it on our ground...in our country.
We lacked the urgency to see the game through. We played as though we were the one with the advantage and we didn't start showing that urgency until the last 5 minutes of the game. A lot was at stake and we still didn't see it. I am not doubting that the players were hurt by this loss but with the right attitude from the start of the match, it could have been avoided. They only had one job to do and they failed at it, miserably and this is me being critical of this team.
I feel the coach made a lot of tactical mistakes too and seeing that we are playing a World Cup qualifier at home, against Ghana, with a lot at stake, I would have preferred him to start Odion Ighalo alongside Victor upfront. Ademola Lookman looks solid but I would still have preferred another experienced head in the person of Ahmed Musa and I would have started the impressive Moses Simon. I would have loved to attack Ghana early, dominate the game, gain the ground and keep them at bay before bringing in the trickery of Emmanuel Dennis and Ademola Lookman.
We have to look at ourselves and know that we didn't do enough. There was no injustice in this game and Ghana played their game to perfection and they deserved it. There is no World Cup for Nigeria and that's painful because we usually joke that what's a World Cup without Nigeria? At least, it was our jersey that won the hearts of everyone rather than winning the World Cup the last time out and knowing that football is the only consolation we have amidst the rubbles in this country, it's a shame that we won't have anything to cheer as our own for the World Cup.
I remembered clearly what football means to Brazilians and that was what Pele gave them despite the political upheaval at that time. This is our moment and we have no one to give us that joy of qualifying for the World Cup and it's a shame. I know we won't come close to winning the World Cup, I am not delusional but there is that sense of pride in qualifying for one and waiting with anticipation to see those we would draw up with in the group stage but it's all gone now. We are going to watch as a spectator. Now I understand how Italy felt after missing out on the World Cup the second time in a row even though we have qualified for 6 out of the last 7 World Cups.
I don't think the coach needs to be sacked because we need a bit of stability in that department especially with the Nations Cup coming up and we would also do down a bit further in the FIFA ranking with this World Cup miss and that's another shame. We will pick up and look forward to redeeming our name in the Nations Cup.
Ghana already booked a slot in the 5 slots available for African countries after playing 1-1 against Nigeria and Morocco also joined in after beating DR Congo by 4-1 (5-2 on aggregate). Tunisia, Senegal and Cameroon completed the 5 slots. Let's see how they can all push in the World Cup in Qatar.
Thank you for your time.
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