The English FA Cup is the oldest cup competition in the world, dating back to the 1871–72 season. Since its inception, only four Nigerian players have been fortunate to have lifted the prestigious cup.
John Mikel Obi leads the pack with four FA Cup winner’s medal which he won with Chelsea in 2006/2007, 2008/2009, 2009/2010 and 2011/2012 seasons. He is followed closely by Nigerian legend Nwankwo Kanu with three; twice with Arsenal in 2001/2002 & 2002/2003 seasons and once with Portsmouth in the 2007/2008 season.
Daniel Amokachi and Celestine Babayaro complete the list with one FA Cup winner’s medal apiece whilst playing for Everton and Chelsea in 1994/1995 & 1999/2000 seasons respectively.
According to the FA Cup fifth round draw that was done yesterday, January 31, thirteen Nigerian players are still in the running to join this prestigious list of FA Cup winners – an all time high. This is minus players like Jordon Ibe & Tiago Ilori (both Liverpool), Ross Barkley (Everton), Ike Anya (Watford) & Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur) who are/were eligible to play for Nigeria but have opted to play for their country of birth.
FA Cup FIFTH ROUND DRAW:
- Chelsea v Man City
- Reading v West Brom or Peterborough
- Watford v Leeds United
- Shrewsbury v Man Utd
- Blackburn v Liverpool or West Ham
- Tottenham v Crystal Palace
- Arsenal v Hull City
- Bournemouth v Everton
Hattrick hero Kelechi Iheanacho will be hoping to continue his goalscoring form and stop John Obi Mikel from making a step closer to his fifth FA Cup when Chelsea host Manchester City at the Stamford Bridge.
Victor Anichebe’s club West Bromwich Albion (WBA) have to overcome Tobi Adebayo-Rowling and Peterborough United in their fourth round replay to progress to the fifth round where they have Reading FC lying in wait.
Odion Ighalo’s late winner for Watford on Saturday, January 30, was enough to set up a fifth round date with Leeds United and Tom Adeyemi.
Blackburn Rovers’ midfielder Hope Akpan has to wait for the winner between West Ham United and Liverpool to know their next opponents. West Ham’s new signing Emmanuel Emenike is expected to feature in the replay whilst Sheyi Ojo, who scored for Liverpool in the third round replay against Everton, is also expected to play a part.
Sone Aluko, a losing finalist with Hull City in the 2013/2014 season against Arsenal, will be hoping to get one better than their nemesis this time around. Chuba Akpom, who scored a hattrick for Hull City in the fourth round against Bury, and Moses Odubajo are expected to feature in the game at the Emirates Stadium whilst Alex Iwobi is likely to start for Arsenal.
This means atleast five to seven (5-7) Nigerian players are likely to feature in the sixth round (Quarter-finals) of the tournament.
This is a good development for Nigerian football however most of these players are either uncapped, have few caps or retired so it remains to be seen how this will affect the fortunes of our national team, The Super Eagles.
The complete list of Nigerian players still in the FA Cup:
John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City), Victor Anichebe (West Brom), Odion Ighalo (Watford), Tom Adeyemi (Leeds Utd), Hope Akpan (Blackburn), Sheyi Ojo (Liverpool), Emmanuel Emenike (West Ham Utd), Tobi Adebayo-Rowling (Peterborough), Alexi Iwobi (Arsenal), Chuba Akpom/Sone Aluko/Moses Odubajo (all Hull City).