IKENWA NNABUOGOR charges Super Eagles interim coach Augustine Eguavoen to dig up his merciless AFCON Egypt Treatment so as to fly past Ghana all the way to 2022 Qatar World Cup…
Coach Augustine Eguavoen must have to thrash the beautiful game’s old saying that “you’re only as good as your last game” to employ a ruthless approach to beat bitter rivals Ghana to book their tickets to 2022 Qatar World Cup finals in November.
The surest way to fix this huge task before the former Super Eagles defender and become a national hero is to hit Ghana with the same treatment he silenced Egypt at the last AFCON if he will lead his men to land in Qatar for their seventh World Cup appearance.
Eagles face the Black Stars in the mother of all battles on the continent for the sole ticket from the exciting play-offs to Qatar beginning with the first leg of the double-header at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi on March 25 and four days later in Abuja.
‘Cerezo’ was far from convincing in his last game – the ill-fated 2021 AFCON second round ouster against Tunisia, surprisingly not looking like the same team that had been ruthless with their 100 percent first round record.
The former Gombe United handler had sent tongues wagging with the intimating manner he slayed Liverpool’s Mohammed Sallah and his mates, and brutally left the Pharaohs looking like they were making their debut at the AFCON.
Even the world champions Brazil, Italy and Germany would have struggled against the Eagles on the day as the three-time African champions looked very much like champions after the first round of games.
World Cup qualifiers at play-off stages are no child’s play and any team can prevail and two pitching two perennial bitter rivals at this crucial stage was not designed neither was an accident and Eguavoen and his men must live up to it or get their fingers badly burnt in the event of any slip up.
Events around Eagles after the AFCON disappointment have been nowhere near cheering as a number of the key players have spent more time in the dug outs and on the treatment tables than on the pitch.
But this cannot be said of Ghana as their men who shamefully fell to lowly Comoros Island and their vicious AFCON group stage ouster, are still very much kicking at their clubs and ready for the big Kumasi/Abuja exchanges, save for captain Dede Ayew, who sits out the first leg in Kumasi due to card suspension.
‘Cerezo’ returns to the technical area in Kumasi with his men not looking like the ones who had stunned Egypt at AFCON as no fewer than four of the smoking Egypt slayers are lacking favours in their clubs.
But ‘Cerezo’ could be bringing on some fresh ideas to slay Ghana and move on to Qatar for his first Mundial appearance as a coach.
Confident ‘Cerezo’ boasted he knew his starting lineup, which could also mean he has got adequate covers for his men who have sparingly courted favours in their clubs.
Scottish Premier League multiple champions Glasgow Rangers will also extend their hand of friendship to ‘Cerezo’ by releasing their comeback star Leon Balogun to boast the ailing Eagles backline that seem be in dire need of stand-in captain William Troost-Ekong and Torino star, Ola Aina, who have yet to kick a ball post-AFCON.
The ‘Oyinbo Wall’ member has also announced his Ghana readiness with a goal from his Rangers’ comeback and must bring his experience to Eguavoen’s back four.
So, what kind of treatment is Eguavoen expected to unleash on Ghana to prevent the badly bruised Black Stars from pooping his Qatar party?
‘Cerezo’ ideas are close to his heart and the much needed technical boost from the appointment of his US’94 World Cup team mate, Emmanuel Amuneke could make the journey to Qatar easier for him.
Though questions were asked about his list of call-ups, ‘Cerezo’ is expected not to let these distractions get in the way of his match plans to annihilate Ghana, but he must have to work hard to grab the sole ticket.
‘Cerezo’ also loves to gamble; his body language suggests he could gamble on match-rusty defenders Troost-Ekong and Aina, but it remains to be seen if he will be bold enough to do that.
‘Cerezo’ isn’t new to surprises and interesting results; with little time to prepare for the last AFCON and players he had not worked with him before except substitute playing captain Ahmed Musa, ‘Cerezo’ impressed with his attractive, result-oriented brand of football. Who says he can’t do it again by giving Ghana the Egypt Treatment and flying all the way to Qatar?