Why the Super Eagles could be stronger than we thought
Nigeria has been known and highly respected in the world of football since the eighties despite this respect diminishing in recent times.
The African “giant” was once the 5th best football team on earth in 1994 but it is currently languishing below the top 50 teams and is the 9th best team in Africa going by FIFA rankings.
Nigerian players like Rashidi Yekini, Celestine Babayaro, Sunday Oliseh, Kanu Nwankwo, Mutiu Adepoju, Finidi George, and Daniel Amokachi among several others made tremendous marks abroad. Their success abroad also contributed to the victory Nigeria had in Africa.
That seems a distant memory these days though.
A new era it may be, with Nigerian players stepping up their game to become a force to reckon with and more importantly, making headlines since the start of the 2015/2016 season. Eagles are becoming major winning factors at their respective clubs, securing vital wins especially in the area of goal scoring.
Just last week, Kelechi Iheanacho scored the winning goal for the English champions, Manchester City, while Odion Ighalo who played the leading role in pulling his Watford side to the English Premiership, continues his fine form, single handedly winning 2 games for his side.
His brace against Newcastle United adds 4 goals in 6 matches to his name, making him the player with the most goals in 2015 across England’s football divisions.
Victor Moses, after securing a loan transfer from Chelsea, has settled and proven to be a catalyst for his new team, West Ham United with his outstanding performances and a goal to secure a win for his side against Manchester City at the weekend.
Super Eagles skipper, Vincent Enyeama got a disappointing red card against Rennes making it his second European red card of his career and his assistant, Ahmed Musa with a brace helped his CSKA side with an epic comeback victory in a 10-goal thriller beating FC Mordovia 6-4!
Anthony Ujah was on target for Werder Bremen, with an assist to his name in the 3-1 away win against Hoffenheim in a Bundesliga clash on Sunday while in Slovakia, midfielder Rabiu Ibrahim was on the score sheet for AS Trencin as they defeated Spartak Trnava 5-3.
Ibrahim’s 39th minute goal makes it his second goal in eight matches.
Elderson Echiejile, Godfrey Oboabona, Nwankwo Obiora, Leon Balogun, Imoh Ezekiel of Anderlecht and Wilfred Ndidi wrere all in action for their respective clubs while Ogenyi Onazi was an unused substitute. Mikel Obi, Joel Obi, Haruna Lukman and Kelechi Iheanacho were introduced in the latter moments of games for their clubs at the weekend.
The coming of Sunday Oliseh as the handler of the Super Eagles was celebrated as a new dawn for Nigerian football especially with so many options available. One would expect this variety represents the sort of headache he would like to have when selection time comes.
However, if this must be realised, past mistakes must also be avoided. The attitude of the NFF in the handling of players especially in areas of bonus and care when injury arises must be corrected and improved upon to translate the form of players into victories.