Super Eagles’ all-round performance in the 2-2 draw with home side Ukraine – an international friendly match in Dnipro on September 10 2019, encouraged a huge sense of hope about the team’s future following the retirement of veterans like John Mikel Obi and Odion Ighalo. However, it also brought new possibilities to the fore – effective talent scouting that will bolster Gernot Rohr’s new-look team.
It is, however, not a herculean task. 2019 is such a great year to be a Super Eagles fan, in view of the plethora of talents lying across Europe waiting to be snapped up.
Completesports.com’s OLUYEMI OGUNSEYIN takes a look at five uncapped dual-national players that can bring massive improvement on what was on show in Dnipro last week.
1. Tammy Abraham (Striker- Chelsea, England)
At the moment, Lille striker, Victor Osimhen is one of the brightest young forwards in Europe and he showed the reason why in the friendly against Ukraine, harrying the hosts’ defence before getting his first international goal from the spot. .
He continued with that rich vein of form by netting his fifth goal in Lille jersey to help them to a 2-1 win over Angers last week Friday.
However, having another exciting talent in Tammy Abraham who grabbed a hat-trick over the weekend to provide him with an intense competition would be Nigeria’s gain.
Great teams always have ammunitions in layers and the Super Eagles should be no different. The fact that the 21-year-old striker is firing from all cylinders while also leading the Premier League goal chart makes things very difficult.
England and Gareth Southgate’s interest would have considerably peaked and they would want to have Abraham tied to a competitive game.
But should Nigeria whose initial approach was blatantly turned down by the striker snap him up from the claws of the Three Lions, it would be one of the biggest coups the country has ever made.
2. Eberechi Eze ( Attacking Midfielder – QPR, England)
Last week, Nigeria’s collapse in Dnipro began immediately the team’s attacking edge was sacrificed as Rohr withdrew Alex Iwobi for Anderson Esiti in his quest to preserve the lead.
Andriy Shevchenko’s men took charge of proceeding, constantly asking questions of the Super Eagles’ midfield which translated to pressure on the defence. Within a minute, the hosts scored twice to tie the game.
Now aside Iwobi, Rohr’s current set-up is bereft of another attacking midfielder and there is not so much that roving new boy, Joe Aribo or Oghenekaro Etebo can do in that department.
Queens Park Rangers no. 10, Eberechi Eze is very much suitable to hand stern competition to the Everton new signing. The 21-year-old in March 2017 trained with the Super Eagles in London but impressive showings for QPR have seen him feature for England U-20 and was away with the U-21 squad during the last international break.
Eze is a lively attacking midfielder, adept at using both feet and unlike Iwobi, he has an enviable shooting ability, thus making him a goal threat.
Only on Saturday, Eze was on song, providing a goal and an assist to steer QPR to a win over Luton. This season, he has registered three goals and laid on two others in seven English Championship appearances.
3. Viv Solomon-Otabor (Winger – CSKA Sofia, Bulgaria)
There were few eyesores in the Super Eagles’ 2-2 draw against Ukraine aside the manner of collapse in the second half. One standout would be Moses Simon’s constant show of inefficiency which has become a theme.
It is as though his only use is for counter-actions on the right side of the pitch, to double down on a dangerous left-winger. On the left where he started his Super Eagles career, Simon is miserable, constantly barging into defenders and losing possession. Overall, no end product.
With starters, Samuel Kalu and Samuel Chukwueze, it was different as both sliced through the Ukrainians. The team needs competition to stay afloat and Simon won’t provide such.
CSKA Sofia winger, Viv Solomon-Otabor is an exciting winger capable of vying for a spot. Otabor is a speedster, skillful and dribbles past oppositions with ease. He also is a goal threat.
Although, born in London, Soomon-Otabor has never been capped at any level by England. He trained with the squad that represented Nigeria at the 2015 All-Africa Games and the 2016 Olympics.
Nephew to ex-Nigerian internationaln Thompson Oliha, the 23-year-old began his career at Birmingham City where he was named the club’s Young Player of the Season in 2015-16.
At the weekend, Solomon-Otabor helped fourth-placed Sofia to a 1-0 league victory over Botev Plovdiv in Bulgaria.
4. Sebastian Osigwe (Goalkeeper – SC Kriens, Switzerland)
The goalkeeping position remains a grey area for Rohr who has since proceeded to hand youngster, Maduka Okoye playing in the lower league in Germany a maiden invite.
Last week Tuesday, Francis Uzoho provided a solid performance enough to reclaim his starter’s shirt, but the 20-year-old still needs to be put on his toes.
While Okoye represents a long term solution, Ikechukwu Ezenwa’s spot might be needing some reevaluation.
Just under two years, Ezenwa has moved to three clubs within the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and has been on the periphery at each of them.
Truth is despite being spoilt for options elsewhere, Nigeria is faced with a dearth of goalkeeping talents.
SC Kriens goalie, Sebastian Osigwe would make for a decent catch to put Uzoho and co. under check.
Osigwe is Swiss-born and his father, Vitalis is an ex-Nigeria youth international and Enugu Rangers player. As a 19-year-old, the goalkeeper was called up by coach John Obuh to represent the Nigeria U-20 side at the 2013 Toulon Tournament.
The 25-year-old is a prominent player at Kriens since joining in the summer of 2014. He played a huge role in helping the team rise from the Swiss fourth tier to the second division. This season, he has played every minute of his team’s six Swiss Challenge League games, helping them to stay fourth on the standings.
5. Chuba Akpom (Striker – PAOK FC, Greece)
On what basis did Kelechi Iheanacho get an invite for the last international game? Rohr needs to be consistent with the sort of cold shoulder he gave while naming his AFCON 2019 squad.
The national team should only be for active and performing players and no spot should be granted as compensation. Iheanacho has not improved from his inactivity at Leicester City. And unless he gets a solution, he shouldn’t get an invite.
That said, the Super Eagles need a replacement, a versatile forward and Chuba Akpom fits the bill. He can play as up top, support centrally or from the wings.
Since ending his age-long union with Arsenal in the summer of 2018, Akpom has gone on to better things in Greece, scoring crucial goals to help PAOK secure the Greek Super League title last season.
This seaaon, he has scored twice in three league games and he is no stranger to the Nigerian national team set-up, having engaged in a kick-about with the side in March 2017 alongside QPR’s Eberechi Eze.
Akpom can come in to give Rohr more options, and possibly provide more quality in the Super Eagles’ attack.11 BUSINESS NUGGETS FROM SUPER EAGLES BRONZE MEDAL TRIUMPH. The content of this ebook will propel you above your competition. DOWNLOAD NOW!!!