By Arinze Ude
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi surprised everybody when he led Joseph Yobo and co to the African Cup of Nations title a few weeks ago.
Prior to the tournament, nobody gave “The Big Boss” and his boys, a chance of qualifying from their group C that consisted of 2012 Champions, Zambia; Burkina Faso and debutants, Ethiopia. Keshi was heavily criticised for leaving out experienced players like Osaze Odemwigie, Taye Taiwo and Obafemi Martins.
Keshi has always maintained that the team is in transition so let’s take a look at some players that could add steel to the Super Eagles.
The 24-year old Bayer Leverkusen of Germany player has expressed his desire to play for the national team and has issued a come-and-get-me plea to the coach.
Having represented Germany at junior level, Sidney has opted to play for Nigeria and has made it clear where his international future lies.
He’s very talented; he can play on both wings and also in attack. If drafted into the team, he could take some burden off Victor Moses by adding wit, pace and creativity to the team.
The Everton striker was unlucky to miss the AFCON tournament as he was recuperating from an injury at the time the team list was announced.
Anichebe is strong and a thorn in defenders’ flesh. He has given a good account of himself in Nigerian colours, most notably at 2008 Beijing Olympics where he helped the team win the Silver Medal after losing the final to Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
He’s a fast and powerful centre forward, in the mould of a “traditional” centre forward, just like Emmanuel Emenike and could serve as a good deputy for Emenike.
This former England U-19 star chose Nigeria over England in 2009, making his debut against Ireland on May 29 2009.
The Hull City man, who can play as a winger cum striker, is very quick and good in set pieces.
The 23-year old was named in Nigeria’s 2010 World Cup Preliminary squad but failed to make the cut. He was also called up for the 2013 African Cup of Nations squad by Stephen Keshi but had to withdraw due to injury.
Hope has had a meteoric rise this season, joining Reading FC from League Two side, Crawley Town in January 2013.
Akpan has declared his intention to represent Nigeria at International level despite being born in England.
Akpan, a former Everton FC trainee, is energetic, combative and disciplined. He’s just the kind of player that would fit easily into the Super Eagles team. Keshi would be happy to have a player of his calibre in his ranks.
Akpala, a product of Pepsi Football Academy Lagos, is a striker who left his mark in Nigeria and Belgium before jetting off to Germany. He’s currently on the books of German top Division side, Werder Bremen.
Akpala made his debut for Nigeria in 2008 against South Africa and scored the first of his two goals for the country against France, breaking French hearts to record a memorable win for Nigeria in Saint Etienne.
He’s good in the air and could add something different to Super Eagles’ forward line.
This midfield maestro needs no introduction. He’s creative and has a hawk’s eye for defence splitting passes. He made his debut for the Super Eagles in a friendly against Sierra Leone in 2011.
Obi has been plagued by injuries in recent months, missing Eagles’ triumph in South Africa as a result.
Everybody knows what Joel can add to the team when fit and it won’t be a surprise if he makes the team for the Confederations Cup in June.
This Manchester City academy graduate shot to the limelight last month when he helped his erstwhile team, Oldham Athletic knock out Liverpool in the FA Cup. He scored one of the goals in the 3-1 win.
Wabara, a defender by trade has represented his country of birth, England at U-20 level but is also eligible to play for Nigeria. His grandfather, Lawrence played for the Green Eagles.
He’s hungry, competitive and strong. He can jostle for the right back berth with Efe Ambrose.
He’s currently on loan at Championship side, Blackpool from Premier League Champions, Manchester City.
CARL ONORA IKEME
Carl Ikeme is a goal keeper with Championship side, Wolverhampton Wanderers. This 26-year old could add to the crop of talented goal keepers in the squad and make a case for himself.
Despite being born in England, Carl chose to represent Nigeria and has been called up once but didn’t feature in the game.
Enyimba International fullback shot to lime light in 2008 when he helped Nigeria win Silver at The Beijing Olympic Games.
He made his debut in a 5-2 win against Congo DR in 2010.
Chibuzor is a reliable defender any day, any time and could add steel to the back four.