Set Piece Strategies ensure Qualification of Nigeria to the World Cup

Nigeria became the first African country to qualify in participating at the World Cup next year. The country defeated the Ethiopian team in a 4-1 aggregate at their playoff match. The winning shots came from a penalty kick from Victor Moses and a sweet free kick from Victor Obinna. This takes the current African champions to reach the World Cup for five times. The champions have been able to successfully qualify in four among the last 5 tournaments. The match was at Calabar. Moses struck the first goal 20 minutes into the play through a powerful spot kick. Obinna’s goal had more of football aesthetics than the other goal. His kick enlivened the otherwise dull match. He scored the goal at 8 minutes from the time he entered the field as a substitute.

The first leg of the qualifying tournament was at Addis Ababa last month, where too Nigeria maintained its streak of victory. However, experts criticized their gameplay to be mostly ‘uninspiring’. Still, Nigeria was the runaway favorite in the last match and Obinna’s goal almost dissipated the criticism of playing a dull game. Their position as leading champions became evident after the defender from Ethiopia, Anynalem Hailu received a midriff shot in the penalty box and had to handle the ball inadvertently. Some commentators also pointed out that the referee has been too harsh in adjudging the penalty. Nevertheless, that was the winning moment for Nigeria.

Moses kick was a big success as the Ethiopian goalkeeper Sisay Bancha went completely wrong in understanding the psychology of the kicker, and dived in the wrong direction. This was much in delight for the home crowd, who were enjoying the game despite a tropical storm in the second half. Obinna’s goal did not give any chance to Bancha either. The footballer was fast to avail the opportunity of entering into the field by scoring the most important goal. However, nevertheless, commentators criticized the players under Stephen Keshi to miss several good opportunities that came along the way.

Emmanuel Emenike was the scorer of both goals at the first leg. However, in this match he failed to get a clear shot at the sixth minute when the defense of Ethiopia could not clear a long throw and rebounded from the post to Emenike. Bancha deflected the ball with a good one-hand save. Brown Ideye got a chance at the 31st minute when the Ethiopian defense was suddenly in a disarray of ball watching. However, his shot deflected at the back post. Ogenyi Onanzi delivered a powerful shot from long range just minutes prior to halftime. However, Bancha agains showed good goalkeeping in saving the shot.

Ethiopia tried all it could in desperation but was unable to deliver a commendable performance. They appealed for penalties twice in early second half, but the referee turned both of them down. The players displayed an overall lackluster performance and could not create a single good goal scoring opportunity. In this week, another four African teams would face their fate in playoff ties.