Flying Eagles Outclass Burundi

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar February 11, 2019 11:14

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Flying Eagles Outclass Burundi

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By Satish Sekar in Niamey © Satish Sekar (February 2nd 2019)

Paul Agbogun’s Nigeria top Group A after outclassing Burundi, especially in the second half. The Super Eaglets won comfortably 2-0 –Yahaya Nazifi and substitute Michael Effom scored after 53 and 72 minutes respectively. It could have been worse as a minute after opening the scoring, a stinging Nazifi shot from outside the area on the left required goalkeeper, Rukundo Onesime to save to his left.

Joslin Bipfubusa, Burundi’s coach, admitted that his team got carried away after a good first half, where they held the more experienced opponents, but after conceding the first goal they did not know what to do, and had no solutions to get back into the match.

Inconsistent Refereeing

However, they were fortunate not to have their left-sided defensive midfielder, Eric Mbirizi, at least yellow carded 25 minutes into the match. There’s no VAR in this tournament. A foul on Bienvenue Kanakmana was punished with a yellow card against the Nigerian defender. Okay, but if that was yellow, the reckless challenge by Eric Mbirizi on Nazifi, had to be at least an ‘orange’ card – worse than a yellow, but not quite red – and perhaps red. Mbirizi clattered into the striker and high.

It will surely be reviewed by referees’ assessor as Cameroonian referee Antoine Essouma failed to even award a yellow card for the ‘tackle’. His first assistant referee, Madagasy, Lionel Andrianantenaina, should also be reviewed. It was a dreadful challenge that may not have been an intentional injury inducing one – it was certainly clumsy – but has to be punished, especially as the victim, Nigeria’s striker was obviously the main goal threat, yet the officials gave no card, just a free-kick.

Reviewable Errors

The inconsistency that was shown – a yellow card being awarded for a foul, and not for a far worse one, ought to consist of reviewable error, but there’s no review when it matters in this tournament – CAF may consider changing that for future ones, as the stakes are high.

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter eloquently pointed out previously, a wrong decision can lead to the wrong result. In a results-based industry, that can cost a coach their job. What then? Does the official or governing body pay the sacked coach’s bills for a year or two?

It’s surely not coincidence that Nazifi posed the biggest threat – a sublime back-heel had been the highlight of the first half, and that he exemplified that threat later, scoring the goal that broke Burundian resistance.

Advantage Eagles

The goals, when they came, were simple, rather than spectacular, but leave the group nicely poised after Niger and South Africa shared the spoils.

The Flying Eagles, Nigeria, have the advantage for now, but still have to play both of the stronger opponents in the group.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar February 11, 2019 11:14