African champions, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and Nigeria’s Super Eagles will face-off in the continuation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying series in August. A section of Nigerian fans fear the present Super Eagles lack the brawn to complement their undoubted skills as coach Gernot Rhor works hard to jone a great side.
Completesportsnigeria.com’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI highlights five Super Eagles stars who are now on the fringes of the
national team but are best suited for the physical demands that the two legged encounters with Cameroon.
1. Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor, Turkey)
Forgotten Super Eagles defender Godfrey Oboabona was a mainstay in the Nigerian side that won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa forming a formidable partnership with Kenneth Omeruo. He has 44 international caps for
Nigeria with one goal to his credit.
Oboabona was a favourite of late coach Stephen Keshi, but has not been lucky with subsequent coaches; Sunday Oliseh, Samson Siasia and now, Gernot Rhor.
The Rizespor of Turkey defender is bullish in style and when in good form is the kind of defensive presence that could unsettle the built-like-tank Cameroon strikers led by Vincent Aboubakar.
Last season, Oboabona played 26 Super Lig matches in the Turkish top flight and was yellow-carded four times. He was sent off once.
Oboabona played a total of 2,291 of club football last season and is good at blocking shots. He has an excellent reading of the game, holds the ball well and creates attack from the backline. He however needs to improve his aerial duels.
2. Azubuike Okechukwu (Yeni Malatyaspor, Turkey)
Azubuike Okechukwu is the kind of player that can match the Cameroonians’ physicality in midfield battles.
Big, strong and powerful, the Most Valueable Player at the 2015 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations has played for numerous clubs in the Nigerian league like (defunct) Bayelsa United and Niger Tornadoes. The player’s mental and physical toughness have certainly been developed before he ventured abroad.
The Yeni Malatyaspor of Turkey midfielder who has five caps for the Super Eagles and was part of the U-23 Eagles side at the 2016 Olympics team in Rio, Brazil where the team won bronze is a battler who takes no prisoners and his
defensive astuteness are exactly what the Eagles need.
The Cameroonians cannot bully the Eagles midfelders to submission when there are players like Okechukwu to provide solidity behind the likes of John Mikel Obi and Oghenekaro Etebo, then shielding the defence.
Okechukwu breaks up opposition’s play brilliantly and has great range of passes that open up spaces on the enemies’ backline.
Okechukwu however needs to watch his discipline. The former U-23 captain received 12 yellow cards last season at his
club in 29 league matches. He played a total of 2,486 minutes of club football in the 2016/2017 season.
3. Musa Mohammed (Loanee at Zeljeznicar Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Former Golden Eaglets captain Musa Mohammed is a good crosser of the ball whose mobility on the right back position
could help the attacking threat the Eagles will pose if invited for the qualifiers against Cameroon in August.
The defender on loan at Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Zeljeznicar Sarajevo from Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir played
six league matches last season with 146 minutes of football to his name.
The first choice right back at the moment Shehu Abdullahi is not a bad defender. He is good at his game but the
extra physical dimension that Mohammed will bring to the team is suitable for the two-legged matches against
4. Brown Ideye (Tianjin TEDA, China)
Super Eagles striker Brown Ideye formed a twin strike-force alongside Fernabahce’s Emmanuel Emenike at the 2013
Africa Cup of Nations where Nigeria lifted a third AFCON title in South Africa.
Ideye is an experienced striker who has played in the UEFA Champions League for Dynamo Kiev and Olympiakos. He was
in the Super Eagles team to the 2010 World Cup in place of an injured John Mikel Obi.
These are achievements which mean that the Tianjin Teda striker will appreciate and applaud the recent feats of the Cameroonians at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and also at the 2017 Confederations Cup but will not be awed by them,
after all, he has ‘walked through that road’ triumphantly before now.
Ideye has played 13 league games for Tianjin Teda in the Chinese Super League with four goals to his credit with a playing time of 1,018 minutes while he was in action in 20 league games for Greek side, Olympiakos before his switch
to the Chinese’s club.
Ideye netted 13 league goals for his former side before his departure early this year. His experience, guile and link up play could be key to achieving victories in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Cameroon.
5. Victor Anichebe (Beijing Enterprises, China)
Forgotten Super Eagles striker Victor Anichebe revamped his career at former club, Sunderland before his recent move to the China to join Beijing Enterprises.
The striker who was in Nigeria’s U-23 Eagles Eagles to the Beijing 2008 Olympics where Samson Siasia led the team to a runners up finish (silver medallists) played 18 Premier League games for the relegated Black Cats and scored
just three goals in the season-a situation which was so because of a niggling knee injury.
Physically strong Anichebe is a striker who thrives playing as a foil for a top striker and his partnership with England international Jermaine Defoe underlined that. He can also play out wide and his darting runs will give any defence some work to do..
Anichebe’s strength and ability to shrug off defenders is what exactly is required by Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rhor to out-muscle a very physical Cameroon backline.
Note: This write up was written for Complete Sports Nigeria by the editor of this website, Newslegend.com.ng, Izuchukwu Okosi.