How do you tame a stubborn pharaoh? This question would have plagued Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia since the day he was hired as interim coach of Nigeria’s national football team.
The question would have traumatized not just him but his players since Friday last week when the Egyptians snatched a draw in Kaduna in the AFCON qualifier.
Let’s face it, the question has plagued Nigerians, those who follow football, all one hundred and three million of them since last Friday.
The widespread optimism
There is widespread optimism amongst the Nigerian players, fans, football writers and bloggers who say a win in Alexandria is doable.
I have taken time to call up a few of them and ask where they get their confidence from.
My questions have been- Is it doable because Nigeria have done it before in Egypt? Is it doable because Nigeria has a fearful away record in Africa? Is it doable because the old tired football cliché says, ‘in football everything is possible?’ or is it doable because Nigeria is a nation of god-fearing people and we will pray our way to a win?
Has Nigeria ever beaten Egypt before? In front of their fans?
Nigeria have only met Egypt once in a qualifying series and that was in the 1978 World Cup qualifiers.
Nigeria won 4-0 in Lagos and lost 3-1 in Egypt.
Other times both sides have met have been in the AFCON proper.
So it will really be difficult to tell how Nigeria will fare based on reputation because it has happened only once before.
And Nigeria is not a side that has a fearful road form. The records show it.
So, how do you tame a stubborn pharaoh?
Siasia’s Gung-ho could work
Last Friday, some of us sat, mouth agape as we saw the team Samson Siasia lined up to play the Egyptians in Kaduna.
From the shape of his team it seemed he had no time to waste and wanted to win, and win from the off.
He had just one recognized midfielder in the team in John Mikel Obi and the others who he featured in the role- Kelechi Iheanacho and Oghenekaro Etebo were more of attacking players.
The truth is that Siasia thought he needed to win that game so he decided there shouldn’t be any faffing around and he was going for an all-out one.
But the Egyptians, from their shape and style had their own plan- keep it tight at the back, pack the midfield, leave one man upfront and play off the counter. They were not in a hurry to win the game and they got a draw. A lucky one but they got it.
The dynamics won’t be any different in Alexandria because the Egyptians, knowing they need a win will not be in a hurry to get it.
Both Nigeria and Egypt would fancy their chances against Tanzania so the battle line is in Alexandria.
The Egyptians will shore up their defence, pack the midfield, play one man up front and use the counters against a more desperate Nigerian team.
What should Siasia do? ATTACK! ATTACK!! ATTACK!!!
He has no other option than that.
In Alexandria, the Eagles will either live by attacking or die by attacking. Siasia has no other choice.
The only other option is spiritual
Since Nigerians are a praying nation and believe no other pray like them, I have another solution to this Egypt debacle.
Samson Siasia should send Victor MOSES to walk up to Hector Cuper and tell him matter of factly to throw the game (let my people go).
Certainly Cuper will laugh him off as a fool, then Siasia can go back to his players, they can pray together and then the plagues will begin to befall the Egyptians.
First all the water in Egypt will turn to blood; then frogs will take over the whole country (except of course the hotel where the Eagles stay); then lice will invade their land and terrorize all Egyptians; then a swarm of flies will invade Egypt; and after that all their livestock will be diseased and die.
At this point, Siasia should send Victor MOSES back to Cuper and ask that the Egyptians throw the game (Let my people go) and certainly, Cuper will say no so the Egyptians will have spoils sprout out of their bodies and then there will be thunderstorm of hail and fire and after that, locusts will eat up all their farm produce and then darkness over the land, even the floodlights won’t work and after that to show Nigerians know how to pray all first born sons of Egypt will mysteriously die.
At this point, Mohammed Sallah and the rest will decide not to play the game anymore and it will be an easy walk over.
Wake up Nigerians. This will never happen. The Eagles must earn their badges in Alexandria and pull a chestnut out the fire.
Anything less than that and Nigeria will not be at the AFCON in Gabon next year.
How do you tame a stubborn pharaoh? ATTACK! ATTACK!! ATTACK!!!