The home-based Super Eagles of Nigeria were walloped and humiliated by host Morocco 4-0 in the finals of the CHAN Nations Cup on Sunday, February 4, 2018.
The Atlas Lions dominated proceedings from start to finish with an all-round attacking style of football which home-based Eagles could not cope with.
It was a bitter pill to swallow but there is a lot to take home from the players and coaching staff as the tournament drew its curtains.
Here are the five reasons Nigeria lost so scandalously to Morocco in the match.
1. They played against a more organized side
The Nigerian team was totally outclassed in the match as the Moroccans showed why they were the highest scoring team in the tournament.
From start to finish, the Super Eagles did not have a breathing space to operate and it was a mass attack, mass defence approach the Atlas Lion adopted to clinch a deserved victory.
2. Coach Salisu’s defensive tactics
Salisu Yusuf’s men were on the back foot and this allowed the opposing team have a firm grip on the match and forced errors on the jittery Eagles.
There was no coordination whatsoever from the defence to the midfield which exposed goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye to the ferocious Moroccan attackers.
The diamond formation where he used only Gabriel Okechukwu upfront did not work out well with the team as the lone striker was over-powered in aerial balls and had little or no support when crosses were driven into the box.
3. They played to survive not to win the match
The game became a survival instinct for the Eagles and instead of going for glory, the entire squad managed to keep the ball beyond the reach of their opponents.
All departments of the team lacked quality, from an unorganized defence to a shaky midfield and a struggling attack compounded the woes of the home-based Eagles.
4. Peter Eneji’s red card
Nigeria was a goal down at halftime before Plateau United’s attacker allowed a rush of blood get into his head and got his marching orders and coming back into the match was almost impossible.
The advantage was then handed over to the Moroccans and they used it to great effect by adding three more goals in quick succession to win their first CHAN tournament.
5. Anthony Okpotu’s absence
The Lobi Stars striker has been heavily criticized for wasting clear-cut chances in previous matches but the number nine is a technically gifted player with enough energy which he could have used to run down the Moroccan defenders.
Okpotu’s pairing with Okechukwu could have brought a different approach to the attacking line as both players could have combined well to pose a serious threat on goal.