Ahmed Musa (L) and Stephen Keshi. Image: Paul Gilham/Getty
In my first prediction, I had said the Super Eagles would beat the Balkan state of Bosnia-Herzogovina. They did. In my second prediction, captioned "Stephen Keshi, A Hurdle To Clear (2) And Thus Far," I said the Super Eagles would win by looking closely to the Argentinian-Iranian encounter and which by if Stephen Keshi studies the tapes carefully, that an Emmanuel Emenike-led attack to weaken the Argentinaian defense shouldn't be a big deal if the focus was worked on; to demolish the guarded walls of Ezequiel Garay, Marcus Rojo and Pablo Zabaleta by disorganizing their strategic defense patterns and opening chances at the goal. There were, however, some few chances though the breakthrough came with Emenike's assist to Peter Odemwingie who striked for the goal, beating the Balkan state by a lone goal.
Argentina wasn't a tough crack. It had no strong defense as assumed and the Super Eagles couldn't penetrate, though, by a stroke of good luck, they were able to clear the hurdle at the mercy of Bosnia-Herzogovina that had sent Iran home in a game played simultaneously for favors not be given a chance.
With some of the game's powerhouses---Portugal, England, Italy, Spain---in early exit accompanied by Africa's Ivory Coast and Ghana, and luck not on Africans' side, the Super Eagles, no question, has all it takes to withstand the French forces when they clash on Monday at the Estadio Nacional Stadium in Brasilia. France, another powerhouse of the globe's sports festival which begun in 1930, in Uruguay, on commemoration of Uruguay's 100 years constitution and, having won the Gold for the 1928 Olympic Games,France will test its skills with the Super Eagles.
So far, the Brazil 2014 football festival has been a great success. Quite an interesting World Cup with lots of surprises and emerging brilliant football playing nations like Costa Rica, Bosnia-Herzogovina and Iran, despite sanctions and a pariah status over the years, Iran proved it's a nation to be reckoned with and not to be brushed aside when it comes to the game. Yes, Iran did not go down as had been anticipated; giving its group partners---Argentina, Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina---runs for their money. Argentina in particular will attest to that, save for its powerful striker in Lionel Messi.
Last night, I had called my brother for a gist on the ongoing tournament and his take particularly on the upcoming Monday, June 30, Nigeria-France match. He really wants Nigeria to beat France, and Algeria beating Germany so the two African nations could meet for the first time in the tournament's history; and he was confident "soothsaying" it would happen. I was on his side, not on prayer lines, but for the fact that the Super Eagles is a better team in addition to its reign as Champion of the continent's Nations' Cup. We talked into the night in a relative discourse that had taken us aback to when the tournament began and when the magnificent Edson Arantes dos Nascimento (Pele) at 17, had featured in the World Cup representing his country, standing out as the youngest to tap the leather, following years of what would be a stigma attached to the living legend, Pele. We talked among others, the best organized and entertaining in the tournament's history, the 1970 festival Pele had helped the Selecao lift the trophy for the third time, in Mexico City.
My brother had questioned why Keshi had not been playing the multipositional Victor Moses. "Keshi is already a veteran," I said, "he has been around and knows his boys very well." With the Stoke City striker, Peter Odemwingie, as replacement, it's never a lost enterprise. He scored the first goal for his country in the tournament and with a combination of Emmanuel Emenike, there's hope for deliverance. All they have to do, like I previously said regarding its attack on Argentina, would be to stop midfielder Morgan Schneider and Yohan Cabaye who returns to the French starting line-up for Monday's encounter.
Enter the CSKA Moscow winger, Ahmed Musa. His focus and ability to shoot straight at the goal earned him two quick goals against Argentina. He should never stop capitalizing on those chances like he did with Argentina, aiming at the goal post.
Nigeria beating France shouldn't be seen as an upset. The Super Eagles is a better team. Losing only comes when their craft is combined with recklessness, and when Keshi declines to play key players at the right time as the changes demand.
Now that Egbon Goodluck Jonathan kept his word and stashed the players' pockets with a long awaited cash bonuses, keeping focussed and intact with the games' framework, I see Keshi lifting the trophy. I love this game and up the Super Eagles.