Iwobi and Iheanacho – The future of Nigerian Football
Written by Kenny Bankole
Iwobi and Iheanacho could be fulcrum the Super Eagles can spin on.
The Super Eagles have started the world cup qualifying campaign on a flying note by winning away at the Ndola Stadium in Zambia. Beyond the victory were the stars of the show for the Nigerian team. The two goal scorers for Nigeria are both 20-year-old and they showed maturity beyond their ages during the game.
Alex Iwobi, scorer of the first of the two goals during the game, acted as a link between the attack and midfield on numerous occasions. His direct run towards the opposition defenders was a constant problem for the Zambian team. His goal was kind of a scramble, but the technique of hanging his foot in the air to volley the ball towards goal (reminiscent of Zidane’s wonderful goal in the 2002 Champions League final) was a beauty to watch. There were numerous occasions as well when his game was still prone to some youthful exuberance, but if well harnessed, the Super Eagles have a huge talent within its rank.
Kelechi Iheanacho has been in the limelight since bursting onto the scene last season for his premier league club, Manchester city. He is not a natural ball playing striker, but his poaching instinct has been in great demand by the Super Eagles since the retirement of the late Rashidi Yekini.
His first international goal was against the Eagles of Mali in a friendly game in France this year. In a lacklustre match, Kelechi stood up to the plates to rescue the team 13 minutes from time by unleashing a cracker from just outside the box into the top right-hand corner of the post.
In the game against Zambia, Kelechi scored the second goal by rounding the Zambian goalkeeper and calmly slotting the ball into the net. His first touch from the pass prior to rounding the goalkeeper was heavy, but his reaction was swift enough to beat the goalkeeper, pushing the ball wide away from the post. He showed immense composure to bring the ball back into play to tap into an empty net.
The two talents gave us a glimpse of what the future holds if we can mould the team around these two young players and with the experience of old warhorses like Mikel, Moses and Ahmed Musa, the Nigerian team definitely looks brighter.
Next World Cup qualifying Match
The next game for the Super Eagles is against the Algerians on November 7th. Against the Zambians, the defence was the weakest link in the team, we will need more than just a dumb luck to withstand the Algerian attack. Countless mistakes were made by the defence making them look like amateur league players. But for the goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme’s man of the match’s heroics, the Super Eagles might have come back from Ndola with nothing.
The coach, I am sure, will look into improving the performance of the defenders before the next game or probably overhauling the entire defence line if we are to have a realistic chance of qualifying for the world cup come 2018.
But till then, we can bask in the euphoria in the prospects of these two wonder kids who can truly transform the Super Eagles to a truly super team from the mediocre team they are now.
- Kenny is a Chelsea Fanatic and a keen observer of Nigerian football. You can follow him on Twitter @Kenerep