Completesportsnigeria.com's JOHNNY EDWARD highlights the players, either untapped or underestimated so far, but who have the talent to become the mainstays in the strong Super Eagles squad that new Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr is expected to to assemble and shaped into a formidable form to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and win laurels for Nigeria.
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1. John Ogu (HAPOEL BEER SHEVA)
Already familiar to the Nigerian scene, John Ogu has been a consistent performer for his Israeli side from last season where he was voted the best foreign player in the Ligat Al. Ogu is a good passer of the ball from midfield and a danger from dead-balls. Caught the eye with six goals last season. A recall for the left-footed midfielder will bring in grit and steel to the Super Eagles squad.
2. Chuba Akpom (Arsenal)
Arsenal's promising youngster, Chuba Akpom, was key to Hull City's return to the English topflight division last season from the Championship division. He could be one of Nigeria's secret weapons in the new look Super Eagles under Gernot Rohr when the World Cup qualifiers kick-starts in October. With seven goals and six assist in 23 appearances for Hull City last
season. The 20 year old forward is back at Arsenal to fight for a place in the Gunners' squad. He was Arsenal's top scorer in pre-season.
3. Imoh Ezekiel (Al Arabi)
After a a cameo appearance in a friendly with the Super Eagles, Imoh Ezekiel made a blistering start to his national U-23 Eagles career at the 2016 Rio Olympics and has proved critics wrong for the umpteenth time, that he is a talent that can be relied on. A striker cum winger, the Al Arabi star was a thorn in the defences at the games though his bursting runs hasn't yielded goals yet, the 21 year old has provided one assist in two games. The petit forward has been tipped in prime position to develop into one of Nigerian's top forward in the coming years.
4. Oghenekaro Etebo (Feirense)
Fast rising Feirense attacking midfielder, Oghenekaro Etebo has shown glimpses, indicating he is ready for the big stage. The 20 year old equalled a 44 year Olympic record when he bagged a double brace in a nine goal thriller against Jap, and has got lots of plaudits for his performances at the on-going Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil. He showed he can beat a man with a drop of the shoulder on a couple of occasions in the two games he has played so far.
5. Isaac Success (Watford)
The flamboyant teen has already earned himself a multi-million-pound switch to a English Premier League side Watford after a stellar season with Granada. With the over reliance on Odion Ighalo for goals, the former U-17 and U-20 team striker could be a valuable option for the new coach.
6. Wilfred Ndidi (Genk)
Wilfred Ndidi enjoyed a fantastic season with Genk playing 26 games and scoring twice, with one ranking among the best goals of the season. The 19-year-old who can play as defensive midfielder or as a centre-back was instrumental to Genk's Europe League qualification.
Ndidi who was a £6m target for the Watford this summer has been tipped to replace skipper John Mikel Obi and make an impact in the Super Eagles in the coming years.
7. Anderson Esiti (Estoril)
The Super Eagles defender has just one international cap to his name, but Esiti claims that single performance ended his international career. One year on and the 22-year-old is arguably in the prime of his career and well-placed to solve the problem of dearth of out-and-out defensive midfielder in the Nigerian side. He was ranked among the top ten midfielders, according to Abola in the Portuguese league which had the likes of João Mário, Renato Sanchez and William Carvalho.
8. Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto)
Chidozie Awaziem is one defender who could add a bit of competition to the Super Eagles backline. His performances for FC Porto this season has been superb.vThe 19-year-old made nine appearances this season, scoring once in Porto’s 2-0 win over Gil Vicente in the Taça da Liga competition should have been in the Olympic team squad for a better assessment. He is widely regarded as one of the best passers of the ball from defence in the Portuguese League.
9. Azubuike Okechukwu (Yeni Malatyaspor)
Azubuike Okechukwu is one of the stalwarts of the Nigeria's U-23 Eagles. Having made his debut for the Super Eagles against Egypt, the 22 year old Yeni Malatyaspor defensive midfielder has been a formidable force for the Olympic team so far at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
10. Anthony Nwakeme (HAPOEL BEER SHEVA)
Anthony Nwakeme's 14 goals in 31 appearances last season for Hapoel Beer Sheva spear-headed the Camel's title win last season. The 26-year-old is yet to play at the national team level but his deadly finishing will be crucial to the Eagles' hopes of making it to Russia 2018. If invited and Nwakaeme can carry his form into next season, then the new coach will find it difficult to ignore the combative number nine.
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