With new Super Eagles manager, Sunday Oliseh looking to build a new team and achieve the much desired result of qualifying for Gabon 2017, it is pertinent to look at some or potential Super Eagles’ players that can aid his mission of featuring in-form players. As usual, number of Nigerian players were unsung for their various teams last weekend.
England-born Shola Ameobi might be an ‘old Eagle’ but he scored on his debut for Bolton Wanderers, while Ogenyi Onazi was a formidable shield all through as Lazio rose to joint second position in the Italian Serie A table following a 3-0 spanking of Torino. Similarly, Anthony Ujah, Odion Ighalo and Ikechukwu Ezenwa also stood out in their respective outings.
Werder Bremen were in an abysmal run of five consecutive losses and had won only two of their opening nine Bundesliga games. On such form, playing away at Mainz 05 was only going to produce one result – a loss. But with six minutes of ingenuity, Anthony Ujah netted a brace to earn his side three maximum points which took his season tally to four goals. It’s the second time the 25 year old is scoring a brace in Germany, the first of which came in November 2011. As expected, his substitution eight minutes from time was met with a resounding ovation. Hopefully, the former Cologne striker would repeat the same feat if he is called up to the Super Eagles for the fifth time.
Odion Ighalo did not add to his five Premier League goals last weekend but was on hand to craftily create two goals that earned his side three points at the Britannia. The 26 year old was denied by the woodwork early in the game but not even the formidable Stoke City defenders could stop his sublime movement and assist from which Troy Deeney scored his first Premier League goal. With the game on knife edge, the former Nigeria U20 skipper turned provider again as Almen Abdi struck to put the game beyond their host, ending their excellent run of four wins. On the other hand, the victory helped the newly promoted side snap out of a run of three games without a win to place them at 13th on the log, their best ever Premier League position. With two goals in five appearances for the Super Eagles, Ighalo is on track to emulate Nigeria greats like Rashidi Yekini.
While European football stole the global attention, we had other heroes doing the nation proud in West Africa. The homebased Super Eagles took a two goal advantage to Burkina Faso for the second leg of the Championship of African Nations’ qualifier and they returned unscathed. This would have been impossible but for a water tight defence led by Sunshine Stars goal keeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa. The 27 year old stood tall as the host blew a chance to redemption from the spot as early as the 25th minute. He went on to marshal the defence throughout the remaining duration of the match as Nigeria who had missed the first two tournament earned a second consecutive ticket to the championship billed for Rwanda early next year. Having grown through the ranks from U20 through U23, Ezenwa look set to man the post for Sunday Oliseh’s men especially with the retirement of first choice goalie, Vincent Enyeama.