If there’s an argument that will never fade away in the Nigerian Football scene, it has to be that of giving the NPFL players the chance in the Super Eagles. One cannot really fault those who make this call.
However, those who don’t fancy the use of local players also have a point. Why? some of them believe that if Nigerian football is not upgraded, there will never be room for local players who ply their trade in NPFL in the Super Eagles.
In addition, some other set of people who follow Nigerian football keenly believes that the call for local players is made by some “Big Guns” who enjoy calling the shots at anything regarding Nigerian Football.
So, we know that most of these local players will never bench the current crop of quality and brilliant players in the National team at the moment, but that doesn’t make them completely useless; so much so that the NPFL has only one slot in the Super Eagles.
Please note, this is not to criticize anyone, but to correct a notion that the local players in question aren’t as bad as they’re being described; just like the common saying “Nigeria isn’t as bad as people paint Nigeria in the international community”
Cheapgoals will today, launch deep into the big ocean of the NPFL, and profile some players who are the best in their respective departments.
We begin from the goalpost. Calls have been made for the current Super Eagles boss, Gernot Rohr to look beyond the regular suspect (Ikechuwu Ezenwa) and scout for better hands in the NPFL to replace the former Enyimba goalkeeper.
And truly, it’s amusing to see that despite Ezenwa’s lack of action in the League and the Super Eagles, he makes it to the Eagles’ camp at every international break. That said, shall we look at his colleagues who should be considered too?
Club: Kano Pillars
Suraj is one goalkeeper that calls has been made for his inclusion in the national team, having pulled some astonishing feats consistently in the NPFL.
The 28-year-old began from Bukola Saraki FC of Ilorin in 2007. And thankfully, he’s been on the horizon since then, with stints at different Nigerian top club sides.
Every quality of a good goalkeeper can be found in Suraj. He’s head and shoulders above some other local goalkeepers in using legs, reflexes, and gripping.
He currently plays for Kano Pillars and prior to the suspension of the league, Ayeleso had kept 8 clean sheets in 17 matches this season.
Club: Sunshine Stars
Ojo is another household name in the NPFL. His dream as a young child was to become a goalkeeper and despite different challenges on his way to the top, Ojo was not discouraged.
Today, he’s a goalkeeper for an NPFL side that parades some amazing talents, Sunshine Stars. Before the current NPFL season was suspended, Ojo had featured for Sunshine Stars in 8 matches and only lost 1 out of the 8 games which were the club’s last game against Enyimba before the season was put on hiatus due to the global pandemic.
Having played for the Nigerian U20 in 2015, the future looks bright for the young goalkeeper in the National team.
Club: Enyimba FC
Most followers of the Nigerian league would be familiar with this name. Theophilus is a 28-year old goaltender who is regarded as one of the best in the NPFL.
And that may be true, for a guy who benched Ikechukwu Ezenwa (who consistently makes Rohr’s team) at Enyimba, also to have played at the biggest of clubs in the NPFL, with loads of records and achievements to his name, he’s definitely a force to reckon with.
Yes, he may not be the best when it comes to the distribution of the ball, but Afelokhai is a dependable hand to prevent goals from the opposition; this has made him similar to former Super Eagles shot-stopper, Vincent Enyeama.
The defensive department of the Super Eagles may look solid, but still can be vulnerable; which is normal. Hence, trying other defenders in that vital part of the team will not be out of place.
Club: Enyimba FC
One of many qualities of a top-notch defender is his technical ability and his dispositions when pressure comes from attackers.
Ifeanyi is blessed with the quality to make a classy defender for the Eagles, and it’s not a surprise, for a player to have played alongside another fine center back, (Late Chinedu Udoji).
One would expect the quality of the 28-year old Ifeanyi to drop after the demise of his partner, Udoji. But no, he’s been able to keep up with the intensity of the league with his massive boldness and confidence.
He’s got the utmost ability to read a game – talk of technical ability, and good at making decisive tackles and interceptions. Ifeanyi got a call-up into the Super Eagles in the later part of 2019, November precisely for the Lesotho and Benin clash.
Club: Akwa United
Nya, 23, scaled through the open screening held by Coach Manu Garba for under-17 players at the U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar, after the CAF Under-17 Championship in July 2013 in Morocco and has since then gone on to make his mark in the NPFL.
He possesses massive strength to make sure his team doesn’t concede. Very decent defender and he’s never scared of making those dirty tackles to keep the striking force of his opponent at bay.
Club: Plateau United
Elisha is a 27-year old defender. Actually, he’s in the midst of two amazing talents in the business of defending at Plateau United, one is a 34-year old Benenese, Salomon Junior, while the other is a Nigerian, Andrew Ikefe, 30-year old.
To displace any of the duos of Salomon or Ikefe in Maikaba’s starting XI looks difficult but one thing is sure, he guarantees the Jos based side stability, composure, and confidence if he partners with any of the duo of Ikefe and Salomon.
He can also deliver efficiently at the right wing-back of the defense.
Club: Plateau United
Ikefe is apparently another Plateau center back. The qualities of a good defender are many and one of them is the aerial presence.
The 30-year old has built a stronger partnership with Golbe as well as Salomon Junior. He’s blessed with the ability to calm pressure from opponents with dazzling passes to his midfielders.
Some actually see Ikefe as a Midfielder which obviously he’s not. Very calculative and does his job in a silent way with confidence. Also, he’s got good tackles and aerial presence.
As far as some lovers of the Super Eagles are concerned, Wilfried Onyinye Ndidi is the only midfielder that has his place in the Rohr’s team intact, the other midfielders would have to fight and impress the German gaffer in order to get a place in the squad.
And that may be true, Ndidi looks as though the only Nigerian Midfielder as of now that’s a valuable asset to his club side (not to take away the wind from the sail of other midfielders in the team).
This means that after the defensive midfield position, the creative department of the midfield can still be vied for in the team. Let’s take a look at the candidates from the local league.
Club: Enyimba FC
Olisema is a 25-year old creative midfielder who joined the reigning NPFL champions last year. Since his arrival, he’s been in a scintillating form which has seen him topping the assist chart of the NPFL and his club still has an outstanding of five matches.
The former Warri Wolves, Gombe United, and Akwa United midfield Dynamo is like an engine for the Aba based side, Enyimba. He reads the ball so well and always beat his markers every time.
Apart from being a playmaker, Cyril has eyes for goals too. Two seasons ago, he was the highest-scoring midfielder in the NPFL after scoring 7 goals with Akwa United.
Club: Enugu Rangers
Shimaga is known in the defensive midfield position and also one of the best the league parades in terms of his position.
Having made his maiden call-up into the home-based Eagles under the watch of Imama Amapakabo, the former Ifeanyi Ubah man looks decent enough to be in the Super Eagles.
The 22-year old got great passes, and a good tackler too. He also makes good use of his height judiciously, as it aids his aerial presence too. Very combative and a box to box midfielder.
Club: Enyimba FC
CHAN Silver medalist, Austin Oladapo models his playing style after Real Madrid legend, Zinedine Zidane. Oladapo can be deadly with the ball using his left foot; he knows when and where to shoot.
Himself and Mohamed Farouk has made Olisema’s job so easy at Enyimba, giving the 25-year old more space to wreak havoc on the opponent’s defense with deadly passes.
This department has lost some candidates to the club’s outside Nigeria, and this is due to the fact that they have decided to look for ‘greener pasture’ outside the NPFL. Names like Mfon Udoh, Sikiru Alimi, and to some extent Junior Lokosa have all left the shores of Nigeria to ply their trades in a more coordinated league, at least than the NPFL.
Thankfully, the aforementioned names have represented the Super Eagles at some point but due to some circumstances they could not make stamp their in the National team, maybe the following names will do.
Club: Enyimba FC
The former Remo Stars hitman has proven to be one of the League’s best attackers right from his days with the Ogun side, to Akwa United and now Enyimba.
The 23-year old can deliver very well aerially, with good finishing in front of goal, he can dribble well and can be said to be a complete striker. He’d scored 9 times in 16 appearances for the reigning NPFL Champions before the suspension of the league. Not bad striker at all for the number 9 position in the Super Eagles.
Club: Enugu Rangers
At the tender age of 21, Ibrahim’s ability has shown that he’s ready for the task ahead. Before the season was suspended, Israel Abia has netted 5 goals in Rangers’ shirt, Olawoyin has always been involved in one to three passes that lead to Abia’s goals.
The young playmaker is always aware of his team’s difficulty on the pitch play, which in turn makes him swing and change the direction of the game. A good ball passer and master at providing defense splitting passes.
Club: Akwa United
Another popular name in the Nigerian top-flight, he’s been consistent in the last two seasons, he did double digits twice in four seasons.
Ndifreke got a good goal-scoring ratio, having scored more than 60 goals for Nigerian clubs, he’s amazing with his footwork and very deadly at ariel balls. A utility player and a beast in front of goal.
He has represented Nigeria at the 2015 African Games, Africa U-23 Cup of Nations, and the 2016 Summer Olympics. He made his debut for the Nigeria national football team on 26 March 2019 in a friendly against Egypt, as a 90th-minute substitute for Shehu Abdullahi. But has been on the lookout for another opportunity to lace his boot for the Super Eagles since then.
FIFA Congress To Decide Future Host Of FIFA Women’s World Cup™
Council assigns FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosting decision to the football governing body’s Congress; also approves financial statements for 2020 and budget for 2022.
Meeting by video conference, the Council conferred to the Congress the decision to award Women’s World Cup™ hosting rights.
Until now, the decision has been taken by the FIFA Council, most recently in June 2020 when the hosting rights for the 2023 edition were awarded to Australia and New Zealand.
As the football governing body seeks to raise the profile of the women’s game, this represents a significant step to bring the Women’s World Cup in line with the flagship men’s competition.
The proposal will be put forward for a final decision by the 71st FIFA Congress, which will meet virtually (for the second time) on 21 May.
International match calendar and release of players.
The FIFA Council received a report on the international football situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bureau of the Council had extended to April 2021 the temporary amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players regarding the release of players for international duty, and FIFA, the confederations, and its member associations remain in dialogue with national authorities about exemptions from quarantine rules for national team players.
READ ALSO: Mosengo-Omba Is CAF New General Secretary
The FIFA Council recognized that the highest priority in football is the health of the players, and therefore the discussion around the release of players for international duty must maintain this perspective, especially as the public health situation develops around the world.
2020 financials and 2022 budget
The Council also approved the organization’s Annual Report, which contains the financial statements for 2020 and the budget for 2022.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 focuses on the role played by world football’s governing body in the fight against COVID-19, primarily through the unprecedented COVID-19 Relief Plan, which has made available USD 1.5 billion to support FIFA’s 211 member associations and the confederations through times of financial uncertainty.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 is available on the official site.
FIFA Arab Cup 2021™
The Council approved the competition regulations for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, confirming the match schedule and draw procedure for the competition taking place in Qatar from 1 to 18 December this year.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Paul Onuachu: A Victim Of Tactical Deficiency
Ever wondered why Genk forward Paul Onuachu has always been a prolific figure for his club and find it hard to replicate that form with the Super Eagles when invited?
The Nigeria international has been in awesome form for the Blue-White, scoring 26 goals in the Jupiler League this season for Genk, while his scoring prowess at his club has been a contrast to his form with the national team under Gernot Rohr scoring just once in 9 games despite being a top performer at club level.
Ahead of the AFCON qualifier doubleheader against Lesotho and the Benin Republic, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr named his 23 man list with the inform former Midtjylland forward listed as one of the standby players.
Onuachu’s struggles with the Super Eagles in previous games he featured is quite baffling, considering the excitement that greeted his first appearance with the national team plus the impressive form he’s currently in.
The job of every manager is to find a suitable position or fashion out tactics that would be suitable for their players in other to blend with the team approaches to every match. In Onuachu’s case, he hasn’t been fortunate enough to blend in with Rohr’s tactics. While at club level, Midtjylland plays to his strength.
However, due to Napoli’s players been restricted from traveling, the Genk forward made it through the backdoor to replace Gernot Rohr’s number one forward Victor Osimhen who hasn’t really hit the ground running with the ‘Partenopei‘, but when with the Eagles, he never fails to deliver.
It’s no doubt that the lanky striker has failed to deliver in his previous games, disappointing the ever-demanding Nigerian football enthusiasts with unforgiving backlashes from the fans. However, his prolific prowess with his club suggests otherwise and consistently makes a case for him to be integrated into the team with a different tactical approach that suits his style.
The era of a target man may have been long gone in football due to the advent of new tactics that have brought about a series of changes in the game. With managers preferring to go with a fast, skillful, or makeshift winger- kind of striker, instead of a target man.
READ ALSO: Super Eagles: 9 Players Who Netted On Debut
Looking at how Paul Onuachu plays with Genk upfront shows he’s one of the best target men in football, despite been perceived by many as a slow and old-fashioned kind of forward. However, John van den Bromm has been able to carve out a tactic that suits him which has been evident with his prolific form irrespective of his style of play.
Onuachu’s Super Eagle future might be on the knife-edge with Gernot Rohr not finding the right tactics that suit the Genk forward, especially with him not been consider as the go-to man despite his blistering runs of form in Belgium.
In recent times Rohr’s philosophy of vibrant attacking football with an emphasis on passing in the final third which requires the expertise of brilliant players to implement such tactics hasn’t really favored him.
Having a player in the mold of Onuachu gives Rohr another tactical option and an alternative style of play should the initial approach fails to work as expected, but the German tactician hasn’t really taken advantage of what the man could offer with a different opponent.
Onuachu’s presence in the Super Eagles team should be an added advantage in terms of variety when the normal approach of the manager fails. With an in-form striker on the bench, it could prove valuable, but in the former Midtjylland’s case, Gernot Rohr doesn’t seem to see him as a player that has a future with the national team.
Players in the mold of the Nigerian are quite physically imposing as the point man, though they may not offer the team excellent off-the-ball movement in some cases. However, they often find a way to provide an opportunity which the team could utilize when attacking or defending.
Onuachu’s inability to show a good turn of pace and smart footwork may have been one of the deficiencies that are affecting his chances of blending perfectly into the team.
However, the job of a manager is to help players blend in perfectly, and that’s exactly what Gernot Rohr should be doing. Not only for Onuachu but for every other player who are always finding it hard to replicate club form with the National Team.