As the ‘Operation Nigeria’ starts, the national team, Amavubi Stars is bound to continue the struggle of winning international recognition.
Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s hopes on CAN 2013 qualifying are relatively good given the time frame between now and the time Nigeria step in town.
The first qualifier against the Super Eagles next month will see the Serb face his first real test of character against a top opposition as national team coach at Amahoro stadium.
After the disastrous 2012 Nations Cup campaign, which saw the team thrashed 5-0 at home by Ivory Coast, the wasps have since got crucial wins. Surely one can only say the wasps were unlucky not to win last year’s Cecafa tournament when Uganda Cranes clipped their wings in the final.
The win against Eritrea ensured Rwanda progress to the proper qualifying, where they face an even sterner test against Mali, Algeria, and Benin in Group H for 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.
With Stephen Keshi led team only living on their past soccer glory, the wasps have time to work out the minor errors, remember Super Eagles failed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations, when they drew 2-2 with their Guinea in Abuja.
In a friendly match played against Chipolopolo of Zambia in Kaduna, the Super Eagles won 2-0, a match Lagos fans dubbed “a worthless win” The team played without any form of directions and kept losing the ball.
According to fan’s tweet, the Zambians played better but were unlucky not to win the match. It was the second friendly game under Stephen Keshi as Super Eagles coach.
Amavubi coach Micho is required to sharpen his stings, if he is to put a boot in Keshi’s tenure. Amavubi must play without fear like they demonstrated in last year’s Cecafa, although it was a secondary tournament, playing at the continental level means upping the game as well.
Believe me when I say the Super Eagles of today no longer a serious threat, they can’t produce the likes of Austin Okocha, Amokachi or Kanu a force to reckon with in the past. Nigerian football has tripped backward compared to the 90’s.
I don’t mean Micho’s team will easily get the Guinean luck; Amavubi has to show a solid game. As a soccer fanatic, consider how both teams performed prior to their Equatorial Guinea and Gabon exit.
The Super Eagles had the technical coaching, but they lacked the hunger for glory, hence their lackluster performance in converting their chances to goals. They failed to get more points from the earlier games, thus leaving them open to the state that led to a ‘must-win’ game.
Tactically, Micho played two central holding mid-fielders in Jean Baptist Mugiraneza and Emery Bayisenge, while Haruna Niyonzima was left to rotate freely in Tanzania.
Using the counter-attack assault occasionally from the left back by Jean Claude Iranzi, paid off, but trying such an approach against (Nigeria) will mean leaving yourself open to conceding goals.
The wasps must prepare very well, Micho has a lot of home work to do, if he is to blend against the likes of Obi Mikel, Joseph Yobo, Raheem Lawal, Yakubu, Osaze Odemwengi, or Ikechukwu Uche.
Playing friendly matches against a select side of foreign players playing their trade in the Rwandan league isn’t enough to prepare a team that will have to play better than it has ever done if Amavubi is to eliminate the Super Eagles over the legs.
The Wasps need to be testing themselves against some of the big teams on the continent. Playing teams like Democratic Republic of Congo or Uganda or Kenya across the border would be of more advantage.
The Serb has had enough time to sharpen the wasps’ wings with the available resources. Rewarding the players with half of what the Nigerian players earn in bonuses, I promise you they can win, otherwise let us keep our fingers crossed. As they say, “the only way to slap a king in the face is when he has a fly on his cheek”.