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Nigeria U-23 Why Samson Siasia’s worrisome defence can’t be fixed

Samson Siasia's not known for putting together great defences; scoring won't be a problem for this side but poor defensive structure is the worry.

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John Mikel Obi and Dream Team VI players play Nigeria's U-23 side win Japan against all odds. (FIFA.com)

Dream Team VI team arrived Manaus and hours later, battled to a 5-4 win over Japan in their first Group B game of the football event of Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

It is unusual to score five goals in a game and still struggle to win it, but that was the case of the Samson Siasia led Nigeria U-23 side. I would however first commend the team for a job well done. If you are reading this you already know about the flight delays that made the Dream Team VI players and officials arrive Manaus just few hours before the game against Japan.

Oghenekaro Etebo play Oghenekaro Etebo scored four goals as Nigeria beat Japan 5-4 (FIFA.com)

ALSO READ: How Japan prepared for the game against Nigeria

Failure of the fund transfer system of the Nigerian Sports Ministry along with other issues-which include the players refusing to board a plane because it was too small-meant that the Dream Team VI had to do majority of their preparations aboard a 32-seater Delta plane.

From a video shared on Twitter by the Media Officer of the team, Timi Ebikagboro the players can be seen stretching their legs and discussing match tactics aboard the plane to Manaus, Brazil. This was necessary because with just less than seven hours to rest and prepare for the game after arriving, every moment mattered.


These strenuous circumstances make it very hard to criticise the players and coaches after grabbing all the three points from the game against Japan. One thing that is troubling I and millions of fans in the country is how poor our defence was during the game.


The midfielders had the composure and the ball-passing abilities needed to steady the game and launch an attack while the forward line had the pace, power and skills to trouble any defence. The five goals scored are testaments that the team has something going right in these departments.

John Mikel Obi play Captain of Nigeria, John Mikel Obi in action (FIFA.com)


The defence however was a different story. There was no communication between defenders, the defensive midfield was too far away from the back four. The centre-back pairing of William Troost-Ekong and Seth Muenfuah was also a disaster. Troost-Ekong was often left on his own to deal with situations-using Japan’s second goal as an example.  Our goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel also looked out of place and short of confidence.

Samson Siasia play Samson Siasia is not known to put together a defensive team (Getty Images )

All these problems are fixable; the only problem here now lies with the man in charge, Siasia.

The Bayelsa-State born coach is not known for putting together great defences. Siasia believes in the maxim ‘best form of defense is attack’. While this is encouraging and exciting, it leaves you very open against top oppositions.

Oghenekaro Etebo play Oghenekaro Etebo scored four goals as Nigeria beat Japan 5-4 (Getty Images)


Siasia loves playing with flying full backs and just one defensive midfielder with the other two in his 4-3-3 formation also barging forward to join the attacks.  This system hurts when an opposition counters you, then the team is only left with just the centre-backs and the defensive midfielder to defend.

It was however great to see Siasia make some effective changes in the game. Taking out Usman Muhammed and Imoh Ezekiel for  Kingsley Madu and Ndifreke Udo respectively were tactically astute.

With any Siasia team, scoring is not a problem; always conceding is usually the worry. The worrisome defence can’t be fixed by Siasia but outscoring every opponent can deliver Football Gold for Nigeria again.

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