The Boys, The Boys Will Remains Boys in the Aerie of Eagles

    By Ikenwa Ashibuogwu Nnabuogor

    The ever evolving nature of football globally especially in the African soil has rubbished whatever is the remainder of the old order when the less illustrious capitulated without much fight, Bafana Bafana of South Africa also tore the form books to force their noses in the forefront in Africa, the semis against Nigeria won’t be any different.

    But be that as it may, the boys will always remain the boys when they file out against their “senior brothers” and tormentors Super Eagles in the semis of the 2023 AFCON in the humid evening in Bouake on Wednesday, February 7.

    Matchups between the two countries have always set the two countries in war paths and this crucial tie that decides who hops into the final promises to be another great cracker in waiting. Eagles are hot favourites to prevail, on paper, and almost possibly, in reality, as Eagles are back to winging it handsomely.

    Eagles also breast the tape on head-to-head standings even in the AFCON’s previous exchanges, edging the boys from the Rainbow Nation three times in three occasions. Will the Eagles make it four this time to fly into the final for their impressive seventh final?

    The last time out was in Egypt five years ago when the 2019 AFCON top scorer Odion Ighalo-inspired Eagles flew past them in the quarters before they were stopped in tbe unforgettable semis by eventual winners, Algeria.

    Only once have the Eagles winged it so poorly against Bafana Bafana when smoking hotTokelo Ranti came to Uyo to teach the Eagles how it was done, inflicting a bad 2-0 over their “senior brothers” in an AFCON qualifier.

    Eagles have since flown back to their much advantaged position over the Southern Africans’ boys and it appears they will not stop their flight to the final as the Eagles’ eyes are firmly fixed on the diadem.

    Previously maligned Eagles’ coach Jose Peseiro reacted gamely to the scathing criticisms that threatened to force him back to Portugal by breaking hearts with his uncompromising 3-4-3 formation with huge emphasis in water right defence mechanisms, to haul his team back into reckoning as well as his personal confidence and relevance.

    Prior to this current Eagles’ resurgence, Peseiro was just a mere coach without substance in the eyes of the media and fans whose sticks were handy and waiting to flog the erstwhile embattled gaffer back to where the NFF gambled on him from.

    Peseiro had better ideas, he had had enough of the loose ends of the sticks from everywhere as the Eagles’ form enroute Cote D’Ivoire was nothing to write home about and broke the bull’s horns to catapult his team to where they actually belong – of course, the top ladder of African football.

    Peseiro has succeeded in re-instilling fears back into the eyes of opponents of what sterner stuff his wards are made but hasn’t really done much to bring them back into the former smoking scoring ways they were known for as his crack defensive tactics have almost stood between opponents from sending the brilliant goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali from retrieving the balls from the back of the net.

    Chances have also been created but criminally wasted especially by Victor Osimhen whose defences have been broken by a consortium of hatchet men defenders who seem to have defied the “Geneva Convention” to stop the golden boy of African football from making hay.

    Hey, isn’t this worrisome for a Bafana Bafana frontline that’s seemingly goal-happy and wastes no time in converting even half chances? Yeah, Peseiro has an antidote for that – his defence…

    Is this Osihmen’s golden moment to shoot himself up the scorer’s chart? He’s only got this and the last game either in the final or the final playoffs to prove he’s still got his scoring groove on.

    Who knows, Osihmen could be celebrating with his trademark hitting his face mask on the turf in dramatic fashion, after all, anything can happen in Nigeria.

    Yours’ truly still believes he can, though…

    He will… Trust me!

    Ikenwa Ashibuogwu Nnabuogor is a Nigerian Journalist based in Lagos

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