CHAN 2020: Why home-based Eagles coach, Amapakabo, deserves sack


With Adebayo Olodan

It is official, the home-based Super Eagles will be absent in the 2020
African Nations Championship (CHAN) scheduled for next year.
After suffering a 4-1 humiliation in the hands of lowly rated Togo in
the first leg, the Coach Imama Amakabo lads failed to score the needed
three un-replied goals in the return leg at the Agege Township
Stadium, Lagos, to advance to the 2020 CHAN tourney. The home-based
Eagles only managed to score two goals through the boots of Sunshine
Stars forward, Sikiru Alimi leaving Togo to qualify for the
competition 4-3 on aggregate.
The result meant the Super Eagles Team B will be missing out of the
tournament for the first time since 2014 and the third time.
The loss to The Hawks of Togo leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of
the Nigeria Football Federation and millions of football aficionados
across the country.
Though many may want to blame the surprise loss of the CHAN 2018
finalist to the late commencement of the Nigeria Professional Football
League (NPFL) but one thing is apparent; coach Amapakapo lacks the
technical savvy to handle any of our national teams.
Over the two legs, the former Enugu Rangers’ boss failed to deploy the
right tactics.
In the first leg in Niamey, he could have adopted an approach that
would see the Eagles concede lesser goals instead of a whooping four
which made the second leg in Lagos an arduous task.
Last week when the team hosted the Togolese rather than playing from
the flanks, Amapakabo gave his team license to be playing long balls
making the home-based Eagles strikers less effective.
With Togo playing about seven men in defence, it was always going to
be difficult to get such long balls go past all the defenders but
crosses from both the left and right flanks may have been turned in by
our attackers. Also, it is possible that one or two defenders in the
Togolese set-up will score own goal in an attempt to clear their
The route one football adopted by the home-based Eagles left the
strikers isolated upfront with the overcrowded defenders clearing
their lines to avert any danger.
The Eagles managed to score the two goals based on the brilliance of
Alimi and to a certain extent a dint of luck.
If Alimi and his cohorts had the ball to their feet more, they
probably would have done further damage and the home-based Eagles
would have qualified for the tourney.
The loss dashed the hope of some of our domestic league players who
were looking forward to using the CHAN competition to force a move to
Europe or better organised leagues across Africa.
Reacting to the loss, Amapakabo was quoted to have said, “No two games
are alike. The circumstance in our first game was quite different from
this. Today, we had a bit of time. We also got to know the Togolese
team a little bit to match their tactics. We won the game but the
result wasn’t good enough for us to qualify.
“Technically, we made some blunders in the first game which has cost
us dearly. We had our chances but a bit of anxiety. They were not able
to calm down in front of the goal. Throughout the game, Togo didn’t
have a shot on target. They stuck to their game plan but unfortunately
we were unable to convert our chances.”
Though the coach hinged the home-based Eagles defeat on the first leg
blunder and anxiety by his players, I however believe that the gaffer
deserves the larger part of the blame for the team’s failure.
First, he is responsible for the selection of the 23-man squad for the
first and second legs. He also selected the starting line-up and made
the changes in the course of the two matches.
More importantly, he set out the team in accordance with the way he
wanted them to play and he dished out instructions to the players at
his will.
It would be recalled that Amapakabo almost jeopardised the chance of
the U-23 team’s qualification for the Olympics when they suffered
humiliation against Sudan, it took the urgent call-up extended to some
Super Eagles player for the team to scale that hurdle.
Rather than waiting for Amapakabo to cause Nigerians more heart
attack, the NFF hierarchy must show him the exit and allow other
tested gaffers to tutor our national teams.

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