Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In Megersa Eagles face a true problem

Asrat Megersa
Ethiopia’s Asrat Megersa blocks out the sun when he plays – he has that much of a presence. But that is not what makes him my favourite Ibex. It’s his humility and the way he carries himself under pressure off and on the field.
Against Nigeria in Addis his game was of such quality that at one point Eagles Assistant coach Amokachi sent in directives to stop going down the middle and it was not because of the bumpy pitch. It was because of the enigmatic midfielder.

Even Coach Keshi also had good things to say about the savvy athlete marveling in amazement at the way he could run backwards. I mean we all know Ethiopians can run, but when one of them catches up to one of your strikers while back pedaling, you really have to scratch your head and loosen your collar. As we heard Keshi said one word “choi” which in Nigerian Pidgin loosely translates into ‘wow’!

Megersa is loaded with talent as well as blessed with size. Amazingly at a solid 6 feet 2 he runs on his toes like a ballerina while being as slippery as spoon of Niter Kibbeh the famous Ethiopian butter. Just ask Zambia’s Sun Tzu and he will tell you that the man can be an unmovable force. So will Mikel Obi who as we know is another player one simply can’t separate from the ball unless fouling. In addition, while Asrat born in 1987, may weigh like a sack of yams when on the ground is as light as a feather when in the air and actually knows how to head with purpose and accuracy. This is because he does not close his eyes when meeting the ball and looks for his target while in flight – a rarity today. Rwanda knows first hand that I am not making this up.
Megersa’s head is as deadly as a Scud Rocket because he heads down and into unguarded space. Backpagepics

Back from his stay in Israel where he played for Hapoel Ramat HaSharon for a spell, many who scout Ethiopia know that he is one of their top three key players. The danger when you don’t keep him occupied in his half with mop up assignments and as a quasi defender, is that he delivers a properly weighted ball and this is why when he plays further upfront the Ibex mostly tend to win.

And this is what Nigeria must do. Keep him occupied in their half. Mikel must take it to him while getting help from others to block his lane and keep him from acting as a sling shot and giving the Ethiopian attack a sense of purpose. I would even suggest avoiding him totally but Megersa I know will always find the action even if it means running back ward to meet it.

Granted while the Saladin Said versus Godfrey Oboabona one and one remains the match up of the game to watch, how the Eagles deal with Megersa will be just as important and if they stumble come Saturday at 3pm CAT Nigeria will be collectively saying ‘choi’ again.