U-23 Nations Cup: Dream Team’s defence worries Akpoborie, Lawal

Samson  Siasia

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Taiwo Adelu

Samson  Siasia
Samson Siasia

The way Nigeria’s U-23 Dream Team VI conceded goals after taking the lead in their last two matches of ongoing U-23 Africa Cup of Nations Senegal 2015 has become a source of great worry to two former Nigerian internationals, Jonathan Akpoborie and Garba Lawal.

Samson Siasia and his team put Nigeria in a tight corner to qualify for the next stage of the championship Wednesday night after giving Egypt opportunity to equalise when they have been leading by two goals before the half time.

The same thing happened in their first match of the tournament when they allowed Mali to close the three goals margin from 3-0 in the first half to 3-2 at the end of the encounter played on Sunday.

“This is becoming too much for a team we thought could defend those goals scored in the first half,” said Jonathan Akpoborie, who faulted the defensive errors of Siasia’s boys as being responsible for the equaliser of the Young Pharaohs in the match played in M’Bour, Senegal, Wednesday night at the Caroline Faye Stadium.

“I think they had all tactics correct, but after the two goals from the penalties, they just went to sleep and relaxed. The two goals of the Egyptians were from the defensive errors from both flanks.

“I hope we won’t be depending on Mali to help us hold Egypt in the last match to guarantee our qualification now,” he said.

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Former Super Eagles player, Garba Lawal said the Dream Team’s defence was too porous against Egypt.

He questioned the defensive tactics of the team after they knew what befell them in their first match against Mali.

“It’s so sad that we conceded two goals in the first match and it happened again in the second match. This calls for a serious concern.

“This is a championship that by now we are supposed to have booked a ticket to play in the next stage, but see where we find ourselves. If Egypt beat Mali, they will have five points, so we must beat Algeria to get seven points, otherwise we will find ourselves in trouble. I only pray we beat Algeria,” said Lawal.

Midfielder Etebo Peter Oghenekaro converted two penalties to give Nigeria a 2-0 lead at half time, but the Pharaohs responded strongly in the second half and neutralized the scores courtesy Ramadan Sobhi Ahmed and substitute Mamdouh El Sayed.

The result leaves Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt in contention for the group’s two tickets for the next round. Algeria and Nigeria share top spot with four points apiece, Egypt have two points and Mali with no point have crashed out of the tournament.

Nigeria were yet again haunted by their dismal second half performance, surrendering a two-goal lead and lucky to escape with a point against a determined Egyptian side, who kept the West Africans in their half for a greater part of the second period.