With 11 goals already in the 2017 NPFL season, the Akwa United attacking midfielder Al Hassan Ibrahim popularly called “Muazam”, is the latest home based player to be capped by the National team.
The Kano-born former Flying Eagles player’s talents has been there for all to see right from the 2013 u17 team where he alongside the likes of Iheanacho, Awoniyi, Isaac Success, tore apart opponents on their way to the Caf u17 Championships. He a was a joint top scorer in the qualifiers for the 2013 u17 AFCON which he, unfortunately, missed out alongside Wilfred Ndidi due to MRI scan failure.
However, in 2015 he featured for the Flying Eagles at the AFCON u20 in Senegal which was won by Nigeria. Shortly after the tournament, the lanky striker received offers from teams in Europe but an injury during his trial with Rijeka cut his dreams of playing Europe and ensured he returned to Nigeria where he signed a six-month contract with Wikki Tourist.
Likened to the Super Eagles legend, Kanu Nwankwo due to his stature and style of play, Muazam combines dribbling skills and pace to devastating effects and this was quickly noticed to those who were still strangers to his abilities in his debut game for Wikki against his hometown club Kano Pillars in an NPFL game in June 2016. The youngster came in the second half of the encounter and turned the game on his head scoring two late goals to ensure a 3-1 victory for the Bauchi based team, much to the dismay of away fans who were hoping for a point away from home.
Muazam followed coach Abdul Maikaba from Wikki Tourist to AkwaUnitedd after the end of 2016 season to continue his development, and it is proving to be a wise decision as he has become one of the focal points of the promise keeper’s attack scoring 11 goals including a stunning hat-trick against Shooting Stars in April 2017 at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium.
One of his goals on that night saw him pick the ball from a clear out from the defence, ran into the opposition box dribbling one defender, rounding another before chipping the goalkeeper from close range all in one move. He also provided the assist for Christian Pyagbara as Akwa United defeated Kano Pillars in Kano in one of the shocking results of week 18 in the NPFL, inflicting two painful defeats to the same team in just under a year.
Since then his stock has risen high, signing a lucrative deal which makes him the highest-paid player at the club and also capping it with the Player of the Month award / NPFL League Bloggers Award: April 2017.
Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise when the National team coach, Gernot Rohr handed him is first call up into the Super Eagles team for the camp held in France for the international friendlies against Corsica and Togo in May having noticed his exploits in the league alongside four other NPFL players in the mould of MFM’s Stephen Odey (league top scorer), Sikiru Olatunbosun and FC Ifeanyi Ubah’s Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
After the friendlies in May, Rohr released the list of invited players to prosecute the AFCON 2019 qualifiers against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Uyo and of the four NPFL players involved in the France camping, only Al Hassan Ibrahim and Goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa made the squad and having made his senior team debut against Corsica in the 1-1 draw, he would be looking forward to his first competitive debut against South Africa.
Should the lanky player who can easily fit in the attacking midfield and striking position impress if given the opportunity against the South Africans and also continue his development steadily, then he would sure add to the growing list of players from the 2013 u17 team who are gradually living up to the expectations of Nigerians and also making the giant progress into the National team. At 21 he is just starting to show his abilities and it is sure there is more up his sleeves, the world would be forced to take notice.
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