The Search For Super Eagles New Poster Boy

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The 2021/2022 Champions League season started on the 15th of September, providing mouth watering fixtures till the 28th of May 2022.

This season sees six Nigerians feature in the European spectacle.

Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal), Adamu Chikwubuike (RB Salzburg), Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto), Innocent Bonke (Malmo FC), Arnaut Danjuma (Villarreal) and wonderkid Karim Adeyemi (RB Salzburg).

The UEFA Champions league sees Europe’s finest contest for continental bragging right.

When you think of Brazil you think of Neymar, when you hear Argentina, Messi comes to mind, you say Portugal, Ronaldo comes. Who then is Nigeria’s poster boy?

The heart of Nigerians these days quake with doubts as many wonder whether or not this current crop of players can secure the country a place in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with the likes of Algeria, Senegal, Egypt, Mali, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco and even Benin, all hoping to also get a spot out of the five allocated.

The issue of fear or doubt has never been the case prior to this dispensation as the “giant of Africa” entertained the world with its smooth style of play.

Talents And The Burden Of Administration

Nigeria has mastered the art of conquering the world at the youth level with the earliest triumph coming in 1985 at the China U-16 world cup.

The U-16 was then changed to U-17 and Nigeria has five trophies to its name (the highest for any country in the competition).

This is a laudable achievement for the country but this feat has in no way reflected in the strength of the senior national team for over ten years now.

Yam is good food only when one decides to either boil, roast, fry or pound it.

The country is blessed with raw talents which is highly noticeable in the U-17 World Cup competition, but after this competition we lose track of these players.

Majority of these players in a quest to make quick fame sign contracts that in no way benefit or assure their future.

They sign these contracts only because the clubs are either from Europe or outside Nigeria. The gods are not to blame rather the Nigerian Football Federation deserves the query for this mishap. All it takes for these players to remain and develop in the country is to have a league that functions. This is not the case as those in the seat of power have decided to put their heads abroad and their anus in the country.

Giant Of Africa

The country did not get the title giant of Africa because of its geographical mapping on the continent, but the development boom experienced from the 60s to the late 90s made the country an envy to others on the continent.

The managerial and administrative decay of sports in the country has made the nation appear far less than the Lilliputans in the sight of many on the continent.

 

Poster Boy Of Years Past

Once upon a Time we had a Nwankwo Kanu who started his career playing for Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now known as Heartland of Owerri).

He made a move to Europe after his success at the U-23 Olympics in USA, to play for the Ajax.

Winning the Champions League with Ajax in 1994/95, Super cup in 1995 and four league titles with Ajax.

He moved to inter in 1996 and helped the team secure a UEFA Super cup.

Kanu had a beautiful run at Arsenal with five FA cup titles and two league titles.

Also, Kanu cupped the African Footballer of the year in 1996 and 1999.

 

Pillar Of The Defence

Taribo West was a pillar at the heart of the Nigerian defensive line.

He’s passion for the green, white, green was unparalleled.

Taribo began his football journey with Obanta United, Sharks, Enugu-Rangers and Julius Berger, before making the transition to Europe.

He did not just play for any team in Europe, but featured in the first team of reputable clubs like AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Playing alongside greats such as Delima Ronaldo and Diego Simeone.

His “green horned” hairstyle was a trademark that struck fear in the hearts of any opposition.

Taribo West

 

Sunday Oliseh’s banger against Spain at France 98 world-cup still linger in the memory of Nigerians who had the privilege of witnessing that game.

Sunday was a force in the defensive midfield position.

His quality made him feature for high class clubs such as Ajax, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund from 1994 – 2004.

Oliseh’s journey started in Nigeria playing for Julius Berger.

 

He is too good they named had to him twice. Austine Jay Jay Okocha brought joy to Nigerians who watched him play. Okocha began playing for Nigerian club Enugu Rangers before jetting to Germany and ending in England.

His trickery and creative style of play has left many Nigerians wondering if we will ever see another like him. He won the 1994 AFCO N with Nigeria in Tunisia and was part of Dream team that won Olympic gold in 1996.

Austine Jay Jay Okocha

Poster Boy: The Contender

Victor Osimhen is one lad with great expectations on his shoulders as the next poster boy.

His eye for goal is admirable but consistency is still an aspect lacking in his game.

Scoring 13 goals in 27 games for Lille in 2019/20 put Victor on the footballing map.

Attesting to his quality shown at the U-17 World Cup in Chile.

Italian side Napoli did not splash €70 million on the Nigerian if they did not see quality in the lad.

All Victor needs to ensure he becomes the new poster boy like Taribo, Oliseh, Kanu and Okocha is consistency.

He is definitely a player Nigerians can bank on for the future.

Poster Boy Contender, Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen

 

NPFL And The Poster Boy Of The Future

All said and done attention needs to be given to the Nigerian league.

The sad state of the league annually embarrasses the nation when teams from the country represent on the continent.

A Nigerian team’s last victory on the continent in 2004 (Enyimba defeating Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia, 5-3 on penalties).

Poster Boy : Clemence Westerhof
Clemence Westerhof

Westerhof a respected Dutch-man in the history of Nigerian football was notorious for finding talents from home soil.

The likes of Okocha, Oliseh, Amuineke, Amokachi all came from his grassroot program. So who says we can not produce and refine our own gold, all Nigeria needs now is a league (refinery) that works to produce more poster boys.

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