+Our chances at World Cup 2014
COME Thursday, June 12, 2014, the FIFA World Cup will start in Brazil and come to a close on July 13, 2014. Out of the 23 players to represent Nigeria at the mundial, the captain, Joseph Yobo is gunning for his third World Cup finals so also are the duo of Vincent Enyeama and Austin Ejide. Elderson Echiejile and Osaze Odemwingie are attempting their second World Cup while others are coming to the world scene for the very first time. ENCOMIUM Weekly presents the 23 players, their strength and weaknesses…
VINCENT ENYEAMA, 31
He is the preferred choice in goal for Nigeria any day. His award as the best African goalkeeper in France recently rank him as one of the best in the world. If he could carry his current sterling form to the World Cup, then Nigeria would go far.
His only weakness is he sometimes underrates weaker teams which cost the Super Eagles vital drop in points during the qualifier.
Current Club: Hapoel Beer Sheva, Israel
Ejide is going to his second World Cup for Nigeria. His experience and lanky stature qualifies him as a reliable substitute to Enyeama. But sometimes he appears very heavy and unsafe in goal. Case in point, his performance against Scotland in a pre-World Cup friendly match. Again, he is said to have conceded more goals in his club than any other goal keeper in the Israeli league.
CHIGOZIE AGBIM, 29
He is not a fan favourite but his loyalty to the coach, Stephen Keshi might have earned him the slot as Nigeria’s third keeper to Brazil 2014. However, statistics from FIFA show that third goalkeepers rarely get a chance to play at the World Cup. So, we can relax and bank on the other two (Enyeama and Ejide) to do the job at the mundial. His major weakness is he is not as tall as a world standard goalkeeper and he is not a savior when it comes to penalty shootout, a deficiency he showed at CHAN 2014 earlier in the year in South Africa.
Current Club: Ashdod, Israel
His place was secured in the squad going to Brazil World Cup because he is the only backup for Echiejile at left back position in the team. He was brought in when Echiejile was stretchered out at the final of AFCON 2013 and covered up very well till the end of the match.
His weakness is just that he can sometimes not be trusted to man the left back position.
GODFREY OBOABONA, 23
One of the most reliable centre backs in the squad. The former Sunshine Stars of Akure captain has proved beyond reasonable doubt his capabilities in the team since Stephen Keshi took over in 2011. He is one of Keshi’s reliable. He was there when the Super Eagles were crowned champions of Africa in 2013.
His major weakness is he sometimes loses focus at the backline and if there is nobody to cover up for him, the defense line is in trouble.
Current Club: Lazio, Italy
The former Under-20 midfielder has grown to be a world class player in the short time he broke into the mainstream Super Eagles squad. His major strength can be his capability to run around and fight for the ball from opposing players. He is good at passing the ball and has potential for taking fiery shots.
However, he may disappear in top rated matches.
Current Club: Celtic, Scotland
A workaholic right full back for the Nigerian national team and Celtic in Scotland. He helped his club, Celtic win the Scottish league earlier this year.
His major weakness is if he is not having a good game, the defence might be in trouble. Most defeats his club had suffered in recent league matches was blamed on his drop in form and lackadaisical attitude in the field of play.
JOSEPH YOBO, 33
At last, he made the list to the World Cup after months of being ignored. Definitely, his experience playing in different clubs in Europe would count when hostilities begin in Brazil. The former youth international is chasing his 100th cap in the team and he would do everything to achieve that.
But his major weakness is his age. At 33, Joseph Yobo may not be able to cope with the pace of much more younger strikers in the World Cup.
EBENEZER ODUNLAMI, 23
One of the proud home based players going to the World Cup. His place in the Super Eagles list was cemented because he is the only backup for Efe at the right back. He has shown what he can do in his performance for the Super Eagles in recent matches, and there is no doubt he is a good choice.
His weakness is his lack of international exposure which can be his undoing if he comes face to face with world class rated strikers at the World Cup in Brazil.
AZUBUIKE EGWUEKWE, 24
The towering central defender is in the good books of Stephen Keshi hence his inclusion in the team. Again, Keshi has always believed in home grown talents.
Azubuike’s only weakness is that he is prone to error that may cost the team vital points. He is culpable in some own goal scored in his team, Warri Wolves.
Current Club: Chelsea, England
He has been tipped to be in the future squad for the Super Eagles. Just 20, Kenneth Omeruo has caught the fancies of world football coaches. When the chips are down, the lanky defender can be relied on any day.
His only weakness is he can’t struggle when he confronts world class strikers in a match.
Current Club: Stoke City, England
Immediately Keshi accepted Osaze’s apology for being rude to him, many analysts knew he would be included in the team to Brazil World Cup. Keshi knew that selecting him and Yobo and later dropping them would create controversy. Besides, Osaze is a fan favourite and he has been in top form for his club. If he doesn’t lose his head and strike a good partnership with Emenike, Nigeria will go far in the tournament.
His major weakness is he may cause disaffection in the team if he is not selected for matches at the World Cup. He did that in South Africa 2010.
Current Club: Rangers International, Nigeria
The luckiest man in the Super Egales now. He was recalled to replace injured defender, Elderson Echiejile few days to the kick-off of the mundial. A delight to watch any day, the CHAN 2014 Best Player is expected to dazzle at the World Cup in order to secure a move to a foreign club.
His major weakness will be his height, he sometimes finds it difficult to displace a much taller opposing player.
JOHN MIKEL OBI, 26
One of the key players for Nigeria. The Chelsea midfielder has won all there is in football except the World Cup. His experience playing alongside world’s best players abroad is an added advantage to the team.
His major weakness is he sometimes fails to recover the ball whenever he loses possession to an opponent. He is also too slow at passing the ball to strikers to launch an attack.
Current Club: Chelsea, England
He is expected to inspire the team in Brazil, a strong midfielder and attacker who can dribble to create chances for goals. Having played in Chelsea and most recently in Liverpool on loan, his vast experience will be needed in the team.
His major weakness is that he can be too slow on the ball and sometimes play to the gallery.
Current Club: Almeria, Spain
He is quiet but effective in the field of play. Those who have watched him play for Almeria in Spain agreed he is worth the call-up in the party to Brazil World Cup. A box to box midfielder if he hits his full potential, he could be one of the shining lights for Nigeria at the World Cup.
His only weakness could be that he is coming in for the senior World Cup for the first time where experience and skills matter.
Current Club: Beveren, Belgium
He nearly missed out in the squad to Brazil 2014 considering the stiff competition for midfield places. The coach, however, kept faith with him and dropped injury prone Nosa Igiebor in his place.
His major weakness is he has played lesser matches for his club to keep him fit for the mundial, a development which may be a disadvantage when the World Cup kicks off in Brazil.
Current Club: CSKA, Russia
He is a player in whom Keshi is well pleased. His ability to deliver accurate crosses for strikers to score goals is a plus for him. He also has speed and can overrun defenders.
His major weakness is that he sometimes runs faster than the ball.
MICHAEL UCHEBO, 24
This is his chance to prove himself or else he would be blacklisted in future engagements. No one could justify his inclusion in the team. However, his ability to run around maybe his key strength.
Judging from his recent participations in the Super Eagles friendlies, he is not fit to be in the party to Brazil because he can lose the ball to opponents at ease and fail to recover when needed.
EMMANUEL EMENIKE, 26
He is the only player in the team with the capacity to win games if he is in top form. He has always been a sure bet for the team both in AFCON 2013 and during the World Cup qualifiers.
His only weakness is that he is prone to injury and he takes a long time to recover whenever he is injured and that is a minus for the team because he is the only sure striker among others.
Current Club: Newcastle United, England
It’s a popular belief he would make the team to Brazil. This is the promise he got from the coach when he was invited to play for his fatherland, Nigeria. No doubt a good player any day, we have seen what he did at Newcastle. For over a decade he played for them before he quit this concluded season. He would be using the World Cup opportunity to get attention from a new club for next season.
However, Shola Ameobi is an injury prone player and for sure he would not be a starter in Brazil.
Current Club: SC Heerenven, Belgium
The former junior international only played few matches for the Super Eagles, his recent one being against Scotland where he equalized to make the scoreline 2-2. His inclusion maybe a mistake if he doesn’t replicate his potential at the World Cup.
His major weakness can be his first appearance on the world stage and may need experience to succeed in matches at the mundial.
Current Club: Volyn, Ukraine
Michael didn’t kick a ball during the qualifier. The coach, Stephen Keshi may have spotted a needed quality in him for him to be included in the final 23-man list to the World Cup.
He may at the end warm the bench at the mundial without kicking a ball.