The former Golden Eaglets captain has set his sight on being Nigeria's greatest

In 2015, Kelechi Nwakali led the Nigerian Golden Eaglets to win a record fifth FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.

The 20-year-old midfielder was rewarded with the overall best player at the tournament for his sterling performance at the tournament.

Nwakali who was snapped up immediately by Arsenal after the tournament in Chile has only represented the senior national team on one occasion but has set his sight on being the greatest player to ever represent the Super Eagles.

On loan at Porto from Arsenal, the midfielder told The Nation Sports and Style in an interview that with “with hard work and humility” he had all it takes to be Nigeria’s greatest ever footballer.

“… I’m just starting my career and it’s like I have not started at all,” he said.

“One of my dreams is to be Nigeria’s greatest ever footballer and it’s not just saying it but to work for it.

 

“I believe with hard work and humility, I will achieve my dreams.”

Published in Awa Football

No Mikel no problem, but do we have a Jay-Jay in Iwobi? five lessons learned from the game against The Knights

Libya were looking to maintain their unbeaten record in the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualification, but three goals and a goal from Odion Ighalo and Samuel Kalu respectively condemned the Mediterranean Knights to an ignominious if their first-half display should be put into consideration.

So many big news ahead of the game, but arguably the biggest from the Nigerian side was the skipper of the side ruling himself or being excused as it were by the coach from the doubleheader tie – an act that has turned to a perpetual habit.

A Mikel-less Super Eagles’ especially, with their display in the second half showed to the world that the team is capable of doing wonders, even in the absence of their skipper.

Also Read

Odd Odion's hat-trick seals victory for Eagles over Mediterranean Knights

Player Ratings: Nigeria 4-0 Libya

But away from that, what are the five biggest take-homes from the game

1. Iwobi, the Jay-Jay we have been looking for: He was so good that he was named twice – we never believed that Austin Jay Jay Okocha’s boots were this big to lace. 12 years after the former Bolton midfielder retired from the national team, many have come, gone, or stay as it were, all in the name of replacing the midfield maestro - Rabiu Ibrahim, Nosa Igiebor, Michael Babatunde to mention a few, but all failed successfully. But with Iwobi’s display against Libya, there is something to rejoice about. Iwobi can never be Jay-Jay – but with the defence-splitting passes, in-human dribbles – he keeps that up, he can be the closest we will ever have.

2. No Mikel no Problem: Series of reasons and excuses were given as why 31-year-old midfielder will miss out the doubleheader against Libya – while all the reasons being given might be genuine but are not excuse – and calling a spade, a spade, it is a case of the Tianjin Teda player selecting games to play, as it had been insinuated from the pre-press conference ahead of the Seychelles game that Mikel would miss the games against Libya, and only be available for the game against South Africa. Mikel or no Mikel, no problem. No iota of disrespect to what he brings to the table, but let’s think of today’s game without Oghenekaro Etebo. Wilfred Ndidi, for now is indispensable in the team, Etebo comes to fore when thinking of sacrificial lamb for Mikel, but we won’t as Nigerians try to imagine the game without Etebo.

3. Nigerians should not be carried away by Ighalo’s hat-trick: Ighalo’s three goals helped see off highly spirited Libyan side, but should we be carried away? No. After putting Nigeria ahead in the second minute, seven minutes later, he chose to throw himself to the floor for no reason when he was set on a one-on-one with the Libyan goalkeeper. Unlike in the game against Argentina, where he never got another chance to redeem himself, he got himself redeemed today – it’s so unusual in the game of football.

While it is important for Nigerians not to be carried away by Ighalo’s hat-trick, it is more importanter for Ighalo not to carry himself away.

4. Jamiu Collins, an answer to the left back conundrum: A game might be too quick to say we have got an answer to the left back conundrum, but a performance as convincing as the one Jamiu Collins had from the left-back position against Libya? The last time we saw something close to that, arguably, was in the days of Taye Taiwo. The Paderborn of Germany had little to do defensively, but going forward, he was a joy to watch. He was unlucky not to have had his name on the scoresheet – as his effort hits the woodwork on the stroke of half-time. His step-overs were a beauty to see – only Marcelo, as a left-back does that in modern day football.

5. Super Eagles can’t afford to be complacent: The most important of all the lessons today is ahead of the return leg on Monday, Super Eagles’ players can’t afford to be carried away. The Knights’ goalkeeper gifted Nigeria the first goal, a wonderful close-range from Francis Uzuoho denied the Knights an equalizer. When you put these together with the fact that Libyan should have been given at least two penalties in the first half, maybe we should put in mind that the return leg in Tunisia will not be a stroll in the park for Nigeria in Tunisia.

Published in Awa Football

All of Nigeria’s FIFA World Cup Matches

Monday, 01 October 2018 09:38

Six World Cups. Two different periods of three successive appearances. 23 goals. One net-bulging celebration. One FIFA Goal of the Tournament Nominee. One mighty jaw-dropping miss. And that one ridiculously alluring and out-selling kit.

Nigeria at the FIFA World Cup has produced quite a few memories, many of them. From Finidi George celebrating like Finidi George in Foxborough, to Jay-Jay Okocha espousing his love for ‘Nkechi’ in Kobe. From the entire nation cursing at Sani Kaita, to Coca-Cola’s ‘Naija Issa Goal’ ringer.

That one time in every four years when even those with very little interest in football take note, when fathers seem to have no other duties than simply being fans, when the morning after the night before is about nothing other than the night before.

So in keeping with Independence Day (our Independence Day, not the American movie), we take a look at every World Cup game Nigeria has ever played in:

1994 (USA)

VS Bulgaria (June 21, Dallas)

After coming close but missing out on appearing in the 1990 World Cup, Nigeria finally made their debut on the global stage four years later. Their first game in Group D was in Dallas against Bulgaria, a game most famous for Rashidi Yekini shaking the net in raucous delight after having the honour of scoring the Super Eagles’ first ever World Cup goal. Goals from Daniel Amokachi and Emmanuel Amuneke capped off a very satisfying win for Clemence Westerhof’s side.

VS Argentina (June 25, Foxborough)

Nigeria’s second group game of USA ’94 was against opponents we’ll come to get accustomed to meeting. Argentina had also begun the tournament with a win, but, thanks to Samson Siasia, fell behind in Foxborough after just eight minutes. It didn’t last long, though, in the 21st minute Claudio Caniggia levelled for Argentina, and then the same man put La Albiceleste in front seven minutes later. 2-1 it finished, and thus began World Cup meetings between us and the Argentines, all of which have ended in disappointment.

VS Greece (June 30, Foxborough)

Nigeria went up against fellow World Cup debutants Greece in their final group game, knowing elimination was a possibility, but so was the chance of topping the group. As it turned out, it was the latter that happened, Finidi George opening the scoring in first half stoppage time, then producing his eye-catching celebration, before Amokachi sealed victory in second half stoppage time. That result, coupled with Argentina losing to Bulgaria, meant the Eagles finished top of Group D.

VS Italy (July 5, Foxborough)

In what seemed like a deliberate attempt by FIFA to make sure the Super Eagles don’t see much of the United States, Nigeria played a third successive game at the Foxboro stadium, a last-16 clash against Italy, who had struggled to get out of Group E. Things to be falling Nigeria’s away, Amuneke putting us in front after 25 minutes, and then in the second half, Italy substitute Gianfranco Zola got sent off. With two minutes to go, Nigeria were heading for the quarter-finals, but a loss in concentration let in Roberto Baggio to roll in a late equaliser for the Azzurri and take us to extra-time. Things got no better in the additional 30 minutes, only 12 of it had gone, when Baggio won a penalty, thanks in no small part to Sunday Oliseh dallying in possession on the halfway line. Baggio scored the spotkick, Nigeria had no answer despite a numerical advantage, and the fat lady sang on our World Cup.

1998 (France)

VS Spain (June 13, Nantes)

A second successive World Cup appearance in a row, and Nigeria were up against it in their first game, having been drawn to play European giants Spain. There were very little surprises when La Roja took the lead midway through the first half, thanks to a Fernando Hierro free-kick, but Nigeria would hit back via the head of the ‘headmaster’, Mutiu Adepoju rising highest to meet a corner, ensuring the Super Eagles would go into halftime on terms. But only two minutes had elapsed in the second half when Raul fired Javier Clemente’s Spanish side back in front. Nigeria, however, would respond again, via a stroke of luck, Spain captain and goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta spilling Garba Lawal’s cross into his net with 17 minutes left. And five minutes after, the turnaround was complete, a long-range belter from Sunday Oliseh proving to be a worthy winning goal, as the Eagles left with the points.

VS Bulgaria (June 19, Paris)

For the second World Cup running, Nigeria came up against Bulgaria. But this game in the French capital was underwhelming, the only note of quality was when Jay-Jay Okocha played in Victor Ikpeba to score the only goal of the game just before the half-hour, as two wins in two games meant Nigeria had not only qualified, but also guaranteed top spot in Group D.

VS Paraguay (June 24, Toulouse)

With Group D already in the bag, Nigeria could afford to take their foot off the gas in their final group game against Paraguay, and  appeared to, as the Paraguayans took the lead after just 31 seconds through Celso Ayala. Nigeria replied via Wilson Oruma, but Cesare Maldini’s side’s greater need showed in Toulouse, and goals from Miguel Angel Benitez and Jose Cardozo ensured they’d progress to the next round alongside the Super Eagles.

VS Denmark (June 28, St. Denis)

It was the venue of the World Cup final that the Eagles headed to four days after the Paraguay defeat, to face Denmark, who finished second in Group C. But inside 12 minutes, we were already two down; Peter Moller and Brian Laudrup giving us a mountain to climb already. Danish substitute Ebbe Sand made it three immediately after coming on, on the hour mark, before Thomas Helveg added a fourth with 14 minutes left. Nigeria got a consolation goal from the right boot of Tijani Babangida, but our second World Cup journey, like the first, lasted four games.

2002 (South Korea/Japan)

VS Argentina (June 2, Ibaraki)

A third World Cup appearance in succession, and Nigeria were pitted in the ‘Group of Death’, alongside Argentina, Sweden and England in Group F. With us being pitted in the latter four of the groups, our World Cup group stage would be in Japan, and it began on the 2nd of June in Ibaraki. It didn’t get off to a great start, as a 63rd-minute header from Gabriel Batistuta consigned us to defeat.

VS Sweden (June 7, Kobe)

There was still time for Nigeria to turn things around, and five days after facing Argentina, we were up against Sweden in Kobe. After 27 minutes, we went in front, Julius Aghahowa heading Joseph Yobo’s cross into the Sweden net, but Henrik Larsson would reply for the Swedes eight minutes later. Then just past the hour mark, precisely the 63rd minute- just like Batistuta did against us in Ibaraki- Larsson scored again, converting from 12 yards after been fouled in the box by Isaac Okoronkwo. There would be no equaliser for the Super Eagles, and after just two games, Festus Onigbinde’s side were eliminated.

VS England (June 12, Osaka)

With the Eagles already eliminated, the final game against England was a dead-rubber for us. And in the heat-soaked atmosphere in Osaka, an uneventful goalless game was notable for a start for 17-year-old Femi Opabunmi, and a World Cup debut for a young Vincent Enyeama.

2010 (South Africa)

VS Argentina (June 12, Johannesburg)

Surprise, surprise. Argentina again. Diego Maradona, who was the skipper when we first met the two-time world champions in 1994, was the coach this time, as Lionel Messi and co were the newest sets of Argentine opponents, this time in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park. Nigeria were back on the Only six minutes had gone when Nigeria went behind, Gabriel Heinze heading home a Juan Veron corner. That was the only goal of the game, but the match itself was most notable for Vincent Enyeama’s Man of the Match performance in Nigeria’s goal, denying Messi on every occasion.

VS Greece (June 17, Bloemfontein)

Bloemfontein was the next South African location, as Lars Lagerback’s Eagles aimed to get their tournament back on track. Greece were the next opponents, a side who’d never scored in the World Cup before, so we were pretty confident. And that confidence almost graduated to smugness when Kalu Uche gave us the lead from a free-kick after 16 minutes. Nigeria were riding high, but things took a downturn when Sani Kaita was sent off after a kerfuffle with Greece’s Vasilis Torosidis. Nigeria were suddenly under pressure, and on the cusp of halftime, Haruna Lukman deflected Dimitrios Salpingidis’s shot into the net. Level at halftime, Nigeria had a numerical disadvantage, and were indebted to Enyeama for staying in the game. But Enyeama could do little in the 71st minute, when he pushed out Alexandros Tziolis’ shot towards Torosidis, who put Greece in front. 2-1 it finished, and Nigeria’s World Cup hopes hung by a thread.

VS South Korea (June 22, Durban)

Nigeria’s national side are famous for their dose of tension-inducing ‘mathematics’, relying on other results going their way to progress. That form was how the Super Eagles got to South Africa in the first place, and they relied on ‘maths’ going into the final group game of this World Cup against South Korea. We needed a win, as well Argentina beating Greece in the other Group B game. We looked to be doing our bit when Uche put us in front inside 12 minutes, but Korea hit back seven minutes before halftime through Lee Jung-Soo. Things became nightmarish when Park Chu-Yung rifled home a free-kick four minutes after the interval, then came the moment that will reverberate throughout World Cup history. Midway through the second period, Uche laid on a pass for Youssuf Ayila, whose cross (you’ve heard, read and/or watched this so many times, haven’t you) was turned puzzlingly wide by Yakubu, who stood two yards from goal. Yakubu did score from the penalty spot with just over 20 minutes left, but a draw was insufficient, as the Eagles crashed out of the World Cup. Neither Yakubu nor Sani Kaita have been seen in a national shirt since.

2014 (Brazil)

VS Iran (June 16, Coritiba)

Nigeria’s first game of the 2014 World Cup was in Coritiba, but back home, everywhere looked green in the build-up, from the streets of Ibadan, the roads in Port-Harcourt, to the nooks and crannies in Oshodi, there was a buzz in the air. Iran were seen by many as the weakest side in the group, so a Nigerian win was expected, almost a foregone conclusion. The game turned out to be the first draw of the tournament, a tepid goalless draw which saw Shola Ameobi in a Super Eagles shirt: it really looked weird.

VS Bosnia-Herzegovina (June 21, Cuiaba)

Nigeria’s second game of the tournament was against Europeans Bosnia, at midnight in our time, in Cuiaba (which for the record is recognised by the Microsoft English dictionary, unlike Coritiba). Nigeria looked to have gone behind early, but Edin Dzeko’s effort for Bosnia was ruled out for offside, a decision which match referee Peter O’Leary later admitted to be a mistake. Nigeria, however took the lead after Emmanuel Emenike got the better off Bosnia skipper Emir Spahic and played in Peter Odemwingie, who found the net, just before the half-hour mark. Dzeko hit the post late in the second half as Bosnia sought an equaliser, but Stephen Keshi’s Eagles held on, and put one foot in the second round.

VS Argentina (June 25, Porto Alegre)

Oh look, people, Argentina again- na wa oo. Nigeria went into the game against the Argentines in Porto Alegre needing just a point to go through with the South Americans. Argentina took the lead after three minutes via Lionel Messi, but Nigeria responded barely a minute later through Ahmed Musa. Messi put Argentina back in front, with a free-kick just before halftime, but Musa would respond for the Eagles again, just after the break. However, La Albiceleste would have the last word, Marcos Rojo forcing home from a corner three minutes after Musa’s second leveller. Despite the loss, Nigeria still headed for the next round, after Iran’s loss to Bosnia. As for Marcos Rojo, it wasn’t the last time we’d hear from him.

VS France (June 30, Brasilia)

On June 30, in the Brazilian capital, Nigeria went up against France in the last 16. After a tight first half in Brasilia, Les Bleus upped the ante, leaving us to cling on for dear life, Yohan Cabaye hitting the bar, while Victor Moses made a goal-line clearance, and Vincent Enyeama produced a handful of saves. But with 11 minutes left, Enyeama would flap at a French corner, leaving Paul Pogba the chance to head the ball into an empty net. A stoppage time own goal from Joseph Yobo- making his 100th Nigerian appearance- sealed Nigeria’s fate, and we headed home, with the last eight still unreachable.

2018 (Russia)

VS Croatia (June 16, Kaliningrad)

Nigeria made light work of their CAF Qualifying group, easing past Zambia, Algeria and Cameroon, despite suffering a three-point deduction, to make it to Russia. Our first game in the World Cup was against Croatia, and an uninspiring first half ended with us behind after an Oghenekaro Etebo own goal. Our second half fared any better, as a penalty from Luka Modric sealed an opening game defeat for us in Kaliningrad.

VS Iceland (June 22, Volgograd)

Nigeria knew the game against Iceland in Volgograd was a must-win, for us to stand a strong chance of getting past the group stage. Once again, the first half was unexciting, but this time, the Super Eagles went into the break level. Then the second half got off to the best possible start, Ahmed Musa firing Nigeria in front after four minutes. Musa hit the post afterwards, before going on to the seal the win with 15 minutes left. Iceland got a chance to get back into the game, but Gylfi Sigurdsson skied a penalty, as Nigeria held on for three priceless points.

VS Argentina (June 26, St. Petersburg)

Yes, Argentina again- guys, we really should hold a reunion. Nigeria were in second place in Group D going into the final group game, while Argentina were bottom of the group with a solitary point, a draw for the Super Eagles would just about be enough for a place in the last 16. But after 14 minutes, we had gone behind, Lionel Messi doing what Lionel Messi does, and giving Argentina the lead. Messi hit the post in the first half as well, as Nigeria went into the break behind, and staring elimination in the face. But a lifeline came six minutes after halftime, when Javier Mascherano fouled Leon Balogun in the box, and Victor Moses converted the resulting penalty; Nigeria were level and back in pole position to qualify. The Super Eagles came close to going in front on several occasions, Odion Ighalo firing a shot wide, and also tested the Argentine goalkeeper Franco Armani, as did Wilfred Ndidi, while Etebo came close with a free-kick. But heartbreak would come with four minutes left, as Marcos Rojo finished from Gabriel Mercado’s cross to put Argentina on the cusp of the last 16. There would be no salvation for Nigeria, as we headed home after three games.

Published in Awa Football

Zidane was my all-time hero – Mikel

Monday, 03 September 2018 06:53

Zidane, Okocha, Kanu were my football heroes -Mikel

John Mikel Obi has picked former Zinedine Zidane as the player he looked up to when he was young.

Zidane, a three-time FIFA World Player of the year winner represented the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid in his playing days.

Though Mikel never had the opportunity to play with or against Zidane, he still handpicked the Frenchman as his all-time football hero.

Mikel who is one of the few players to have represent Nigeria at all levels also revealed he drew inspirations from Nigerian greats, Nwankwo Kanu and Jay Jay Okocha.

Mikel told sportsvillagesquare.com, “As a young player, I drew so much inspiration from two of the best stars Nigeria ever produced.

“I grew up looking up to (Nwankwo) Kanu and Jay Jay Okocha. I enjoyed watching them play for their respective club sides. More importantly, their exploits in the national team thrilled me.

“In their later years, I played in the Super Eagles with them. They were highly motivating to me.”

He added, “But on the global stage, Zinedine Zidane was my all-time hero.”

Published in Awa Football

Lille release Vincent Enyeama by mutual consent

The French Ligue 1 side have confirmed that they had ended their seven-year association with the Nigerian shot stopper on a mutual consent.

Vincent Enyeama, who joined Lille from Isreali side Hapoel Tel Aviv in 2011 has left Lille after he had had his contract terminated by mutual consent.

The 101 capped international, last featured for the 2010-11 French league champions in April 2017, as he was confined to play with the reserved team last season.

Read Also:

Vincent Enyeama: Top 5 Super Eagles moments

Meet the 6 Nigerian players in the UEFA Champions League this season

In a tribute statement, Lille wrote on their website, “Beyond his performances, Lille and the supporters will remember Vincent’s smile and enthusiasm.

“The club now wishes him the best in his future projects.”

Enyeama, in the 2013-14 season went 1,062 minutes without conceding a goal, keeping 17 clean sheets from 35 league games that same season.

The former Enyimba goalkeeper in 2014 emerged as the first goalkeeper to be named French Ligue 1 African player of the season.

 

Published in Awa Football

Vincent Enyeama: Top 5 Super Eagles moments

Thursday, 30 August 2018 10:38

Yesterday, we all joined several thousands of Nigerians and, generally, avid football lovers from around the world in the celebration of one of the best goalkeeper of this modern era, Vincent Enyeama as he clocks 36. The tributes were laden with nostalgic re-calls of the stalwart's time with the Super Eagles and the level of confidence that his presence between the sticks gave to every football-loving Nigerian. These memories are profound and we'll certainly give everything just to experience those amazing moments again. Here are Vincent Enyeama's 5 most memorable moments:

 

1. Debut (Against Kenya in 2002)

You must have seen the pictures. The hilarious pictures of a fresh-faced Vincent Enyeama in an ugly oversized amber-colored jersey on top an even uglier black pant with abysmal mismatch of numbers. Yeah, that picture. That was his Super Eagles debut against Kenya at the National Stadium in Lagos in a Korea/Japan World Cup 2002 warm-up game.

The then 20 year-old had been recognized by followers of the local league as a generational talent, with prodigious shot-stoping prowess that had helped Enyimba win the league two seasons in a row. He was thrown into the Super Eagles fold by Chief Adeboye Onigbinde. Enyeama didn't disappoint the faith of Onigbinde. He had a decent performance, bagged a clean-sheet -- as the Eagles won 3-0 -- and earned himself a place on the plane going far-east for the Mundial. 

 

2. World Cup debut (Against England at Korea/Japan 2002). 

Having been eliminated after two consecutive loses to Argentina and Sweden, Super Eagles were, mathematically, out of the World Cup but with a game still at hand against England. 

Onigbinde opted for Enyeama over Ike Shorunmu. The youngster showed calmness even as the star-studded English side poured everything towards him. He stymied the curling free-kick of a prime David Beckham, palmed a ferocious shot from Paul Scholes and doused the near post jab of Emily Heskey. The game ended goalless. 

 

3. The slip (Against Angola, 2005)

One of the very few harrowing memories of Enyeama committing blunders. And it was one with a grave consequence. 

The Super Eagles needed a win against Angola to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The Super Eagles had lost to Angola in Luanda and needed to win at home to gain the head to head advantage leading to the last match of the qualifying series.

Jay Jay Okocha pulled Nigeria ahead with a trademark free-kick but Enyeama inexplicably slipped and conceded a free-kick and the Angolans held on for a vital point and eventually qualify for the World Cup. 

 

4. Man of The Match (Against Argentina, 2010)

This was one of the best games of his life. Head-to-head with then best player in the world, Lionel Messi, Enyeama did things top goalkeepers couldn't do -- stop Lionel Messi from scoring. 

Enyeama saved wave after wave of Messi's attempts. His endless saves won him the Man of the match award ahead of even Lionel Messi. 

 

5. 100 caps

Vincent Enyeama played his 100th game  for Nigeria in a friendly against Uganda in Uyo back in March, 2015.

He joined former teammates and captain Joseph Yobo on the short but highly revered list as the only players that have represented Nigeria 100 times.

 

 

 

 

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Mikel out. Rohr reveals Salisu Yusuf will not be part of the team, and that the Eagles might play Saudi Arabia in a friendly game

The Franco-German at a press conference in Lagos today named his 23 players for the African Cup of Nations Qualification match against Seychelles.

Gernot Rohr, expected to be without the services of Victor Moses, who last two weeks, called it quit with the national team, and captain John Mikel Obi, maintained the core of the players that represented the country at the World Cup – with the likes of Samuel Kalu, Kelechi Nwakali, Jamiu Collins and Semiu Ajayi.

Henry Onyekuru, who last played for Nigeria in November, in the World Cup qualifying match away to Algeria also made the cut.

Rohr as well named four-man standby list that include: Uche Agbo, Stephen Eze, Blessing Eleke and Musa Mohammed.

Full List:

Goalkeepers – Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi, Ikechukwu Ezenwa.

Defenders -  Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, Chidozie Awaziem, Bryan Idowu, Ola Aina, Jamiu Collins, Semiu Ajayi, Keneth Omeruo.

Midfielders – Wilfred Ndidi, Ogenyi Onazi, Joel Obi, Etebo, Kelechi Nwakali.

Strikers – Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo, Simy Nwankwo, Alex Iwobi, Henry Onyekuru, Samuel Kalu, Kelechi Iheanacho.

Rohr, who also revealed that assistant manager Salisu Yusuf that is under investigation over bribery claims would not be part of the coaching set up for the Seychelles game, said the Super Eagles might play a friendly match with Saudi Arabia on September 11.

 

 

 

 

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Moses might represent Nigeria in Qatar, says Odegbami

 

Victor Moses, last Wednesday, shocked Nigerians when he abruptly announced his retirement from international football.

 

The 27-year-old, who scored 12 goals in 37 appearances for Nigeria was said to be unhappy at the last World Cup, and had told his team mates of his plans to end his international engagement.

 

Though Moses cited focusing on his club football was the reason for calling the shots, Segun Odegbami said the enormous task attached to be the next captain of the Super Eagles was why Moses retired from international football.

 

The ex-international wrote on CompleteSports that the scrutiny, heinous responsibility and a possible infringement that might come along Moses being the new face of Nigerian football might have been the reason the Chelsea player decided to face his club football.

 

He wrote: “He is 27 years old. Under normal circumstances no player voluntarily retires from international football at an age that he is at his very best – experienced, mature, exposed, comfortable and at the peak of his physical fitness. So, to retire at 27 means something is not right somewhere.”

 

The mathematician has fondly called continued: “Moses may be afraid of the enormity of the weight of responsibility he has to carry should he be its captain. It may take a psychoanalysis of his situation to understand his motivation for announcing his retirement from the national team this week.

 

“In the line of hierarchical succession Victor Moses should naturally become the Super Eagles’next captain and the heart of a new assembly of players that shall emerge from the debris of the 2018 World Cup campaign.

 

“Victor Moses has always been on the quiet side, hardly speaking to the press, hardly seen in public places outside the field of play, especially in Nigeria.

 

“Whenever he comes to Nigeria he stays away from the limelight of the media. He never stays in the country for long, breezing in at the last minute before matches and heading out with the earliest flight available.

 

“For some reason, Victor Moses always carefully selected his appearances for the national team. He also avoided interviews about his personal life like a plague, feeling more comfortable playing, living and identifying with his foreign clubs in Europe.

 

“Now, fate has brought him closest to Nigeria. He is in the hierarchical line to become the next captain that a new Super Eagles assembly needs.

 

Ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Odegbami believes Moses Moses would come out of retirement to represent Nigeria, so long a new captain has been named for the team.

 

“…Finally, I believe that this retirement is temporary, all things considered.

 

“We shall soon see him (Moses) again in a new Super Eagles assembly that will take the country to Qatar 2022.

 

“The big deal will be that Victor Moses will not be its captain!” Odegbami concluded.

 

Published in Awa Football

The Chelsea defender has confirmed that he would not be part of the national set up anymore

The 27-year-old announced on social media that he was retiring from international football.

Victor Moses, who had represented England at various youth levels, made his debut for Nigeria in 2012.

Moses, who featured in all of the Super Eagles games at the World Cup, in a statement on social media on Tuesday made his decisions to retire from playing for Nigeria known.

The statement obtained from his verified Twitter account reads: “I would like to announce that after much thought I have made the decision to retire from playing international football.

“I have experienced some of the best moments of my life wearing the Super Eagles shirt and have memories with me that will last a lifetime. Nothing will ever compete to what it felt like to represent Nigeria on behalf of our country.

“However I feel that now is the right time to step away in order to be able to focus fully on club career and my young family as well as to allow the next generation of Super Eagles Stars the opportunity to step up and flourish. We are blessed as a nation to have some exciting young players coming through and now is their time.

“There are so many highlights that stand out for me over the years; from making my debut, to playing in two World Cups and being a part of the team to win African Cup for first time four our nation since 1994 being just a few of them.

“I have already spoken to the manager by telephone and would like to say thank you to him and his staff, the NFF and all of my teammates for all of their support over the years.

“Most importantly I would like to say thank you to the Nigerian people for believing in me and supporting me over the years. It’s meant the world to me and my family and I will always be a proud Nigerian supporting the team.

“Thank you for the memories and good luck to the team for the future.”

Moses represented Nigeria on 37 occasions and had 12 international goals to his name.

 

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Former Eagles goalkeeper, Segun Oguns claims collection of bribe is a trend in Nigerian football

 

In the wake of the bribery allegation scandal that has hit one of the Nigeria national team coaches, Segun Oguns, a former ex international has said he was not taken aback – as collection of bribes is a norm in all the Nigerian national teams.

In a video dated back to September 2017 and released by BBC Africa Eye last Tuesday, Salisu Yusuf, the Assistant Coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria was caught on camera receiving cash worth N360,000 ($1000) from undercover journalists posing as football agents to field some players for a then upcoming CHAN tournament.

The coach was also caught on camera agreeing with the undercover journalists on collecting 15% of any transfer to Europe for those players.

Though Salisu had denied any wrongdoings – saying he collected the money only “as a gift of trivial and symbolic value not as an inducement to play the two players,” Oguns, a former goalkeeper of the Super Eagles said collection of money to field players was not something new in Nigeria.

Oguns, in an interview with Punch also alleged that some players were omitted from the Nigerian team to Russia because they could not offer much money.

“It didn’t come to me as shock; it’s a normal thing with all the Nigerian national teams today,” Oguns told Punch.

“Taking bribe and collecting money to field players is not new in the Nigerian teams fromu-13, U-15, U-17, U-20, U-23 to the Super Eagles that went to the 2018 World Cup.

“We are aware of allegations of people collecting money to take certain players to the World Cup. We know that we didn’t take our best legs to the World Cup. We know those who were not allowed to go to Russia because they didn’t offer money, the federation us aware. They know the coaches are taking money to field players.”

On Friday, the NFF, in a statement said preliminary investigations had started over the Yusuf’s bribery scandal.

Oguns, who partly blamed Amaju Pinnick for failing to stop the trend said nothing concrete would come out from the investigation.

“How he (Yusuf) got himself involved in this, I don’t know. He is a gentleman, but I don’t feel comfortable the way our national team has been made so cheap.

“He has to face the music.

“But I can assure you that nothing will happen. That’s how it’s been in the last few years,” he concluded.

 

 

 

 

Published in Awa Football

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