Thoughts of a Lunatic: Good Father Mourinho, Captain Musa and Other Talking Points

PSG knocking Bayern Munich out of this year’s UEFA Champions League butreses the point that what Zinedine Zidane achieved with Real Madrid in the competition between 2016 and 2018 is unreal. I can’t associate managerial wizardry to a particular type of hairline. However, It is funny that for all of Zidane’s achievement, he is not considered as a tactical genius while the other guy with his type of hairline is regarded as one. After another win in El Clasico, Zidane could be on his way to back-to-back La Liga titles with a ‘Ronaldo-less’ and ‘crocked- Hazard’ team. Talking about managers and hair, maybe grey hair does not necessarily translate to wisdom (especially those tinted ones), as posited in this clime. We saw two managers with grey hairs drag each other at the weekend, taking me to the Mourinho Derby.

Good Father Mourinho

You know, especially as a kid, when you have bottled anger and someone mistakenly touches you, you explode. For Jose Mourinho, there will always be something to talk about when things are not going his way. He starts reminding everyone of how he invented football, won all the trophies at a swoop while controlling the players with a pad from the comfort of his sitting room. He reminds us of what he has won in the past. How does that change the fact that they have increased the price of a bottle of beer at my favorite joint, it’s paining me sha. Hello Mr Mourinho, that does not take away the fact that you are not meeting expectations at your present club, like in your last two jobs.

Grey hair, same old Mourinho

In response to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s jibe at Son Heung Min acting to get a Manchester United goal chalked off, Mourinho insinuated that Solskjaer is a bad father, which we don’t know. Many fathers won’t be good fathers in Mourinho’s books then, especially father’s from this clime. Apart from going to bed hungry for some misdemeanor, you also get some lashes. Many people from my climes will have telling tales but dare not tag their fathers bad.

It has been turpsy-turvy for Mourinho at Spurs

Anyways, the issue is not about fatherhood. That’s what Mourinho does, he takes attention from the matter. The matter is that Tottenham have lost ten league matches this season, the highest in Mourinho’s career. He can’t start saying this players are not good, he once said they had better players than Manchester United. Make Mourinho no turn am to family matter, man should fix his rot.

A man that disrespected his elders does not even have the moral rights of talking about respect.

Good father Mourinho, face the job.

Captain Musa

So Ahmed Musa is returning to play for Kano Pillars ten years after initially leaving for Europe, while Musa and I hope this will only be a temporary arrangement, at least for now. I can’t help but try to analyze the stage of Musa’s career.

Musa is 28. At 28, a player should be at the peak of his career. A decline is expected at the other side of 30, then the twilight. We have seen players return to play for their boyhood clubs at the twilight of their careers or return to their local leagues, it is nothing new. But it is not when they supposed to be at their peak, especially when they have not been blighted by injuries. Is Musa at the twilight of his career? Elder Arjen Robben recently returned to play for Groningen at 36. Even the likes of Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and some others are playing well in their thirties like they are still ‘peaking’. Maybe those ones are exceptions but a player should not be at twilight at 28. I am not insinuating anything. Decipher what you want.

That’s the way to CHAN

It is of more concern because Musa is the captain of the Super Eagles and expected to still be part of the team. Should a 28-year-old at his twilight be captaining the Super Eagles when there are many young players doing well?

So, since Gernot Rohr suggested that home based players should concentrate on doing well at the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) – specifically for home-based players, Musa should also play for the CHAN team.

Will Allardyce laugh last?

I have not forgotten that I said Sam Allardyce’s ‘jazz’ will fail this time at West Brom. After back-to-back wins, 8 goals scored in two matches and moving to within eight points from safety, could the big Sam perform another miracle? I still believe he won’t do it. It is easier for one Dollar to exchange for a hundred Naira than for West Brom to beat the drop this season.

I am tired of writing. There are many other hustles to do. Follow goaldball on Twitter @goaldbal

Three Things To Watch In The Super Eagles Match Against Benin

The Super Eagles of Nigeria are set to do battle against the Squirrels of Benin in their penultimate AFCON 2022 qualifying match. Even though the Eagles went to Benin by water, they are expected to soar in the sky and prey on the squirrels.

The Eagles have been positive in training

It is the Super Eagles first match of 2022 and the first since the abomination that happened against Sierra Leone. The team has a lot of points to prove as qualifying is seen as assured. One point needed in two fixtures against Benin and Lesotho should not require carrying a bowl of sacrifice to the Eagles Square.

As we saw at the last AFCON and even in the first leg, where the Eagles had to dig deep to win, the Squirrels are no easy prey. But they should still be prey to the Eagles, no matter how hard. We look at three things to look out for in the match.

The battle for the right-back slot

Since Ambrose Efe lost his spot in the team, there has hardly been any consistent right-back, despite the plethora of options Gernot Rohr has at his disposal.

Ola Aina has been in good form for Fulham, though sometimes he has played at left-back and other times part of a back three in a 3-at-the-back system. His best performances for the Super Eagles have also come at left-back. Tyrone Ebuehi is in good form at Twente Enschede but has never enjoyed a consistent run in the Super Eagles. Abdullahi Shehu used to be Rohr’s man in this position but seems to have lost his place to more natural right-backs. Chidozie Awaziem excelled in the role at the last AFCON but he his naturally not a right-back. Luckily Kevin Akpoguma is unavailable to add to Rohr’s headache. He was Rohr’s choice in the position in the last two matches but he struggled and it was clear to see, it isn’t his preferred position.

Akpoguma’s unavailability might be a blessing

It will be interesting to see who starts in the position against the Squirrels. Defending well and supporting the attack from the fullback positions will be key to how the Eagles play. Rohr seems to have settled for the in-form Zaidu Sanusi as his first choice left-back, it will be nice to start having some clarity on the opposite flank as well.

Ndidi, Etebo and Aribo in midfield

Rohr’s formation is most times a 4-2-3-1, with two holding midfielders. Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo are Rohr’s men in this position. The two are always constant when they are fit and available. However, since Joe Aribo burst into the scene with a different style of approach to the aforementioned two, Rohr has never had the three together in the team before.

Aribo may drop out of the Starting XI

With all three available, it will be interesting to see who drops out or if they all start together. Without Ndidi in the last home match against Sierra Leone, the midfield was badly exposed in the second half, leading to the team’s collapse. It seems certain Ndidi will start, to shield the defence. However, Rohr may have to choose between Etebo and Aribo. Etebo will give the team a better defensive balance but Aribo carries more goals threat and contributes more to the attacking forays. It will be interesting to see what Rohr goes for.

Iwobi and Iheanacho combination

Kelechi ‘Senior man’ Iheanacho is in very good form and should be allowed to carry the momentum into this match as it should be beneficial. With Victor Osimhen expected as the lone center-forward, it is likely Rohr decides between Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi to play in the hole behind the striker. Iwobi has been Rohr’s man in this position but hasn’t been consistent at club level.

Iheanacho scored for the Eagles in his last start

However, Rohr can and should consider playing the two of them together. One of the Super Eagles best away matches under Rohr was away at Zambia during the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. The Eagles won 2-1 to get that qualifying campaign to a good start. Iheanacho and Iwobi scored on the day. Their combination that day was the bedrock of the Eagles victory. Their movement and passing accuracy was too much for the Zambians to handle. It was Iheanacho in the hole and Iwobi on one of the flanks. With Samuel Kalu out, Rohr can shift Iwobi to the left to accommodate Iheanacho in the middle of a 4-2-3-1 formation. Their movements and passing will be key to unlocking a Benin defence that is expected to sit deep. As we have also seen in recent weeks at Leicester, Iheanacho thrives when he has a striker ahead of him.

Nigerians expect the Super Eagles to secure the AFCON ticket in Benin, anything short of that will raise further questions.

Our projected Starting XI: Okoye: Aina, Troost-Ekong, Balogun, Sanusi – Ndidi, Etebo – Chukwueze, Iheanacho, Iwobi – Osimhen