Wednesday, September 10, 2014

NIGERIA: Troubling Statistics and Trends

After Nigeria's 0-0 tie in Cape Town away to South Africa there are things that jump to the mind. Clearly, Nigeria is going through a rough patch and it is not just at the current Cup of African Nations qualifiers where Nigeria has already suffered a historic home loss. There are some notable statistics that jump at you:

1. Nigeria has not won a game in its last four appearances and has only won one game in its last 10!

2. In the last four games, Nigeria has given up eight goals!

3. Nigeria's top striker -- Emmanuel Emenike -- has failed to score in 11 consecutive games for the Super Eagles!

While the above statistics may reflect just a rough patch that affects all teams, it could also reflect a downward trend that may not augur well for the defense of the Cup of African Nations. Let's hope that it reflects the former and not the later. What seems to be clear is that this team reflects the performance of its talisman -- Mikel Obi -- whose form has plummeted during the period in question. Nigeria's inability to take control of the midfield has been a big issue recently.

In any case, next month will be the real test for Nigeria. The game in Sudan will go a long way in determining whether Nigeria qualifies for the 2015 Nations Cup as one of the two top teams in its group or it waits stressfully hoping to be the best third-placed team to reach the Cup finals in Morocco. Nigeria must win in Sudan to hope for at least a second-place finish. A draw may not be enough. Unfortunately, Nigeria is not a team that has historically travelled well. However, it has been capable of winning away when the chips are down as was the case in Omdurman, Sudan in 2001; in Zimbabwe in 2004; and then Nairobi in 2009.