IKENWA NNABUOGOR spares a thought for the Super Eagles “Oyinbo Wall” and charges the national team’s handlers for a quick surgical operation before the important flight to Qatar via Cameroon…
‘The Oyinbo Wall’ started like a fortress where foot soldiers and platoons were stopped on their tracks and limited casualties behind the enemy lines, but the glory days are fast belonging to the past.
German-born Leon Balogun joined forces with his “twin” across the border in Holland, William Troost-Ekong, to form a formidable defence line that was nicknamed “Oyinbo Wall” and won for themselves more admirers than critics, but it appears the critics have put their noses in front as the wall continues to falter.
Former coach Sunday Oliseh blooded these centre backs into the Eagles ranks as more players with the Nigerian blood gushing in their veins continued to maintain ties with their roots.
Spain-based Kenneth Omeruo was the bigger loser of this “foreign invasion” as Oliseh exchanged the baton with Franco-German successor Gernot Rohr, who kept faith with the duo.
True to type, the pair went on to prove Rohr right by making the Eagles rear almost near impregnable, consigning Omeruo to mere cameo roles or stop-gap measures in events of injury-forced absence of either of the “Oyinbo Wall”
Though, Balogun made his debut a year earlier than his twin in 2014 under late Stephen Keshi and injured himself at half time after coming on for Joseph Yobo in a friendly against Mexico, the “Oyinbo Wall” formation was cemented since Rohr replaced Oliseh.
Together the pair enjoyed its impressive understanding at the heart of Eagles defence and stoutly defended their lines as if their lives depended on it.
But their lights are seriously burning out between them as questions are being asked about their overall performances.
The erstwhile perfect understanding between the duo is fast giving way tof misunderstanding as fast strikers have capitalized on this to punish the Eagles defence leaving goalkeeper Maduka Okoye at their mercy.
Balogun, for one, is not really blessed with quickness, which Troost-Ekong seems to have, but lately Eagles have ended up losers from his lack of pace.
When Central African Republic came to town in October, ‘the Oyinbo Wall’ was all but impregnable as both actors amateurishly lost it to a French lower league striker to make himself the hero of the hugely disappointing Lagos evening.
Troost-Ekong is strong, resilient, battling no doubt, but errors most times elementary have not done any good to his roles in the “Oyinbo Wall” and he will be called to duty a lot more time for his country of his father’s roots for calls to commit more errors.
No doubt, Rohr noticed a crack on the wall and returned to Germany in search of a back-up, but the Kevin Akpoguma project is taking too long to finish.
Twice Akpoguma was held back by unforeseen circumstances to cement the cracks, but the “Oyinbo Wall” held out to continue letting the foot soldiers to advance behind the enemy wall.
Even when Akpoguma arrived without blemish, he didn’t impress Rohr to substitute the “Oyinbo Wall” and the cracks on the wall still remain worrisome to Rohr and the teeming fans.
But there’s a another competent back up or even replacement – young Chidozie Awaziem – but it appears Rohr isn’t fully convinced to hand the 24-year old full responsibility to break the “Oyinbo Wall” and form his own.
The Turkey-based star is fast becoming one of the country’s best judging by his performances for both club and country.
Awaziem returned in the 3-5-2 formation Rohr ran back to as the Central Africans and Cape Verdeans threatened and proved he was ripe enough for bigger responsibilities.
Awaziem has also proved the versatile defender he’s by being named ahead of Torino’s Ola Aina and Cyprus-based Shehu Abdullahi at right back to keep Rohr’s head ringing at leaving him there and still experimenting with the “Oyinbo Wall”
But it remains to be seen if Rohr (if he still hangs on the job) with break the wall and hand rampaging Awaziem the presidential approval to organize things.
Qatar is nigh and the path to the oil-rich Arab nation will definitely not be a stroll in the park as the 10 best footballing countries in Africa go to war for just five tickets, but will the “Oyinbo Wall” provide the much- needed cover for a safe landing in Doha?
If Qatar is near, Cameroon is nearer and the jamboree for the Africa’s best could make or expose the wall badly.
The begging question is: will the fast-ebbing “Oyinbo Wall” stand the heat and make Eagles put their bronze best behind them?
Eagles are troubled at the moment as uncertainties hang on Rohr’s head over his Eagles job with the trip to Cameroon just around the corner.
Rumours of replacing him have been in the air since the unconvincing advance to the crucial final stage of 2022 Qatar World Cup via a laboured 1-1 draw against Cape Verde, but nothing has been heard about a new appointment.
Nevertheless, Rohr has hinted on the release of a 40-man list to Cameroon, meaning the NFF may have settled the knotty issues to begin preparation for Cameroon in earnest.
This also means that work is in progress for a good outing in Cameroon and therefore, concerns about the fast-crumbing “Oyinbo Wall” are being looked into with utmost seriousness.
Both share 93 appearances (Balogun, 41; Troost-Ekong, 52) between themselves for their country, but how many more caps will they still share together as questions are being asked about their partnership?
Cameroon 2021 is surely another massive litmus test for the “Oyinbo Wall” and it remains to be seen what becomes of them after the continent’s biennial party.
It’s only expected that the wall will come back to its old, robust self, but at the moment the wall appears more pregnable going forward.