MN: Attitude, formation and Milan use – how Okafor and Yakin ended up at odds

By Oliver Fisher -

Switzerland are in the last 16 of the European Championship after they drew 1-1 with Germany last night – giving them a scare by taking the lead – but Noah Okafor was once again forced to watch on from the bench.

As MilanNews writes, Okafor has played zero minutes so far in Germany across the three group games against Hungary, Scotland and last night against the hosts, leading to some confusion among fans given he previously had a prominent role.

However, the words of Switzerland head coach Murat Yakin before the tournament almost sounded like a warning regarding the lack of playing time that the forward has had since joining Milan, both due to injuries and Stefano Pioli’s choices.

“Every move also involves great risks, he is rarely a starter with his club. Especially for a striker, it is important to play and his limited playing time is certainly not optimal,” he said.

“His role? I don’t see him much as a number 9 who has to play with his back to goal. He is at his best when he starts from the outside and cuts inside, his speed is enhanced when he has space in front of him. At the moment he lacks a bit of timing in his movements, some mechanisms need to be oiled.”

The Okafor-Yakin relationship started well: it was he who broke the deadlock in the match against Bulgaria which earned them qualification for the Qatar 2022 World Cup at the expense of the Azzurri. It was thought that the Swiss had found their striker for the future but that wasn’t the case.

The reality of the facts is that in the 3-4-2-1 system he uses, Yakin struggles to find a role for him. Pure wingers are not deployed and he is not really an attacking midfielder as the coach wants in the two behind the striker.

Of course the feeling was that Okafor could be a solution to unlock games off the bench, but Switzerland have never found itself in the position of having to make big changes so far, while Ndoye, Vargas, Duah and Embolo all performed well.

Finally, a detail that should not be underestimated is the attitude shown so far. From what filters out from the Swiss training camp, Okafor has not yet shown an attitude in the sessions that will make the coach change his mind.

Why did he call him up, then? Essentially to have more solutions in attack, and because Embolo’s condition and the unknown Duah suggested that having Okafor’s experience could be beneficial.

Tags AC Milan Noah Okafor

4 Comments

  1. Pioli didn’t use him often enough, either at striker or as a sub/rotation for Leao. Hopefully Fonseca will use him a bit more.

    1. Agree. I would love to see Okafor play more, especially when Leao drags on the pitch. Jovic, also, I’m just not sure we’ll have a lineup that will work for the Serbian.

      Fonseca will have my respect if he starts players based on merit instead of seniority/hierarchy.

  2. And yet, as well as Swiss have done, this guy keeps starting Embolo. A striker more scared in the box than Origi…

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