Su­per Ea­gles who promised much but of­fered lit­tle

Weekly Trust - - Trust Sports - David Ngobua

Any­time names like Late Stephen Keshi, Late Rashidi Yekini, Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, Sun­day Oliseh, Kanu Nwankwo, Uche Okechukwu, Peter Ru­fai, Finidi Ge­orge, Garba Lawal, Ti­jani Ba­bangida, Osaze Odemwingie, Jospeh Yobo, John Mikel Obi, Vic­tor Moses, Vin­cent Enyeama, Em­manuel Emenike, Efe Am­brose, and a host of oth­ers are men­tioned, the first thing that comes to mind is their in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive con­tri­bu­tions to the suc­cess of the Su­per Ea­gles in their time.

They are among the two squads that won the Africa Cup of Na­tions for Nige­ria in 1994 in Tu­nisia and 2013 in South Africa. Apart from fea­tur­ing for Nige­ria at the con­ti­nen­tal level, most of th­ese play­ers went on to rep­re­sent the coun­try at the World Cup level.

In­ter­est­ingly, de­spite club com­mit­ment and bat­tles with pro­fes­sional in­juries, some of th­ese play­ers were able to bag sev­eral in­ter­na­tional caps.

The most capped Su­per Ea­gles play­ers are Vin­cent Enyeama and Joseph Yobo who re­tired from the na­tional team when they hit 101 caps.

While Yobo called time on his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer in 2014 af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing show­ing at the World Cup in Brazil, Enyeama bowed out con­tro­ver­sially in 2015 when for­mer Ea­gles cap­tain Sun­day Oliseh was ap­pointed na­tional team coach.

Based on th­ese play­ers’ bril­liant per­for­mances, they be­came house­hold names and are still adored by their teem­ing fans. Although Rashidi Yekini has passed on, he is fondly re­mem­bered for the goals he scored while lead­ing the Su­per Ea­gles at­tack.

Even as his pre­de­ces­sors had scored goals for the Su­per Ea­gles, Yekini be­came the first Nige­rian to score for the coun­try at the se­nior World Cup. He achieved that mem­o­rable feat in Nige­ria’s open­ing match of the 1994 World Cup against Bul­garia.

How­ever, some play­ers in the class of 2000 ap­peared on the scene with the Su­per Ea­gles, daz­zled briefly and then fiz­zled out. Even as much was ex­pected from them based on their po­ten­tials, they of­fered so lit­tle.

Trust Sports looks at some of those play­ers who sparkled but failed to sus­tain the per­for­mance that took them to the pin­na­cle of Nige­rian foot­ball.

While most of them were part of the squad that won the third AFCON ti­tle for Nige­ria in 2013, some were at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Ju­won Oshaniwa: This for­mer Kwara United, Lobi Stars and Sharks of PortHar­court de­fender had 17 caps for Nige­ria. He made his in­ter­na­tional de­but in 2012.

Although he ap­peared as un-used sub­sti­tute at the 2013 AFCON in South Africa, he played in the fi­nal against Burk­ina

Faso when he came on to re­place in­jured Elder­son Echiejile.

At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he played all four matches for the Su­per Ea­gles. How­ever, when it ap­peared a re­place­ment for Echiejile was found, Oshaniwa fiz­zled out.

His ca­reer dipped so much that his Scot­tish club Heart of Mid­loth­ian re­leased him in June 2017, a year be­fore his con­tract was due to ex­pire.

Nosa Igie­bor: Nosa started out at FC Abuja in the Nige­rian league be­fore go­ing abroad to play for sev­eral clubs like Lille­strom in Nor­way and Hapoel Tel Aviv, Mac­cabi Tel Aviv in Is­raeli league as well as Real Betis in the Span­ish La liga.

A mem­ber of the vic­to­ri­ous 2013 AFCON squad, Nosa had 15 caps for Nige­ria. The for­mer Warri Wolves player scored twice for the Su­per Ea­gles from his de­fen­sive mid­field po­si­tion. He cur­rently plays as a mid­fielder for Cypriot First Divi­sion club Anortho­sis Fa­m­a­gusta.

Obio­rah Nwankwo: The for­mer In­ter Mi­lan young­ster also ar­rived with lots of promises but of­fered so lit­tle.

He was a mem­ber of the Fly­ing Ea­gles squad which took part at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt, the 2009 WAFU U-20 Cham­pi­onship, and the 2009 African Youth Cham­pi­onship in Rwanda.

Obiora as a young­ster made his first-team de­but for In­ter Mi­lan in a UEFA Cham­pi­ons League match against Tot­ten­ham in 2009 in Lon­don, com­ing on as a sub­sti­tute for the in­jured Sul­ley Mun­tari in the 53rd minute.

Go­ing by his im­mense tal­ents, it was not a sur­prise that he made the team to the 2013 AFCON in South Africa.

Nwankwo who had 8 caps for Su­per Ea­gles is now with Boav­ista in Italy.

Fe­gor Ogude: The for­mer Wolves player who plays as a cen­tral mid­fielder or cen­tre­back for Yenisey Kras­no­yarsk in the Rus­sian league boasts of 16 caps with the Su­per Ea­gles. He was a mem­ber of the vic­to­ri­ous 2013 AFCON team and also a mem­ber of the 2014 FIFA Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup in Brazil.

The hard tack­ling Ogude failed to sus­tain the tempo as he was quickly frozen out when Keshi left the na­tional team.

Sun­day Mbah: The for­mer Enugu Rangers striker be­came an in­stant hero when he scored cru­cial goals for the Su­per Ea­gles at the 2013 AFCON while still a home based player.

He scored in the quar­ter-fi­nal against highly rated Ele­phants of Ivory Coast and was the match win­ner in the fi­nal against Burk­ina Faso.

Fol­low­ing his hero­ics in South Africa, much was ex­pected from him. While wait­ing to move to Eu­rope, he lost his form so even when he fi­nally joined lowly rated CA Bas­tia in the French League, the fire in him had died.

The 2013 AFCON hero who played 21 matches for Nige­ria scor­ing 5 goals last played for Yeni Malatyas­por in Turkey.

Ba­batunde Micheal: Af­ter stints in Ukrainian clubs like Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih, Volyn Lutsk and Dnipo Dnipropetro­vsk, the for­mer Heart­land of Ow­erri player is back in Africa with Moroc­can gi­ants Wy­dad AC.

Af­ter im­pres­sive show­ing at the FIFA Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup in 2013 in Brazil, he made the squad for the 2014 World Cup where in his first ever start for Nige­ria in the match against Bos­nia, he daz­zled un­til his arm was bro­ken by a fe­ro­cious shot from mid­field mate, Onazi Ogenyi.

Although he was iden­ti­fied as a player for the fu­ture, he too fell by the way­side af­ter the 2014 World Cup.

He scored two goals in 17 ap­pear­ances for the Su­per Ea­gles be­gin­ning from 2013.

Ramo Azeez: Although this for­mer Golden Ea­glets and Fly­ing Ea­gles star held so much promises and was widely tipped to an­chor Su­per Ea­gles mid­field in no dis­tant fu­ture, he has failed to live up to ex­pec­ta­tions.

He was a sur­prise in­clu­sion in the squad to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil where he made his de­but on 16 June by start­ing in a 0–0 draw against Iran.

Just like some of his con­tem­po­raries, Azeez has not soared high in the green white green with the Su­per Ea­gles.

The prod­uct of Fu­ture Pro Academy who now plays for Span­ish club CD Lugo in the Se­gunda Divi­sion in the Span­ish league as a cen­tral mid­fielder had only 4 caps for the Su­per Ea­gles.

Apart from the above listed play­ers who promised much but of­fered so lit­tle, oth­ers like Kunle Odun­lami, Uche Nwofor, Micheal Uchebo, Reuben Gabriel, all mem­bers of the 2014 World Cup team and many oth­ers also ended as flashes in the pan.

Su­per Ea­gles Ju­won Oshaniwa (R) fights for the ball with Mathieu Val­buena of France at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Su­per Ea­gles 2013 AFCON hero, Sun­day Mbah

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