Monday, October 14, 2013

Ref and tactics ensnare Antelopes

It was a sad day for Ethiopia yesterday. Half was by her own making and the other half by Cameroonian ref Néant Alioum.
The Waila Antelopes sprung out of the gates eager to take advantage of their home field and score early. They were aggressive and persistent but rather than focus on perfecting that final pass, exhausted too much time playing to the galley. One attack for instance featured four back heel passes and there is no coach on earth that would not consider that reckless showmanship and best left in the circus.

One coach that was impressed with their overall play was Keshi himself who said “"Ethiopia were awesome today - they played good,". Keshi also revealed part of his game plan which was to play possum in the first half and conserve energy. This explains why he was constantly looking at his watch."We (went) with our game plan, we just wanted to see how Ethiopia play at home," he told Fifa reporters afterward.

While Enyeama was not really tested in the first half, it was not because the opportunity did not arise. It was there ample a time but was either ballooned of hoofed away by the overeager Ethiopians. To make matters worse when Shaladin did score it was not given; and that seemed to drain the emotion from the entire stadium except from the visitors stand.

When the goal did come it was a pipsqueak and failed to resuscitate the crowd as one would have expected. Enyeama is pretty insistent that the ball did not cross the line when he caught Behailu Assefa's floater in the 57th minute . I think it did, but so many believe it was a makeup call from the central African ref trying desperately to repair the damage he had done in the first half. In any case, rather than trying to finish off the African champion Bishaw tinkered with his lineup and removed veteran Girma Adane who granted was carrying a yellow. It was a dear mistake.
Keshi sprung his trap eight minutes later by bringing in size for speed. Moses and Oduamadi were replaced by Ideye and Igiebor as Nigeria changed gear and went into her fabled more physical auxiliary drive. The team in white was now playing better, and it was the team in green that had to take a break and drink water. Replacement Goal Keeper Jemal had been wobbly all day long in the Antelope net and Emenike sensing this, unleashed a cracker in the 67th minute for which the Ethiopian had no answer.
Whatever emotion or support that had been left in the Stadium now fizzled away like soda pop in a glass. Incomprehensibly the Ethiopian fans now sat on their hands with sad long faces and refused to sing while the clock still had 23 minutes on it. The whistling now being heard was the one being made by the Nigerian fans and it was done when the home team had the ball. All of this in a stadium that sits 35,000 fans? Shame. By the time Emenike was felled inside the 18, and converted the PK in the 90th minute the game had already been long lost mentally for the Antelopes.

It’s now Mission Impossible for Ethiopia. They must now travel to Calabar next month and be the first team to beat Nigeria there ever and the odds of that happening are - slim to none.