Saturday, July 27, 2013

Brief Descriptions of Top Players in Nigeria's National Team...

Since Stephen Keshi became Nigeria's coach in 2011 he has used many players. However, there are some of those players that Keshi has repeatedly used or we feel that he will use regularly in the coming months. Below we have provided very brief description of each of those players that we believe are in the coach's main pool.

Augustine Ejide – He is perhaps the best of Nigeria’s three goalkeepers at defending crosses. He is no doubt an excellent goalkeeper. It is unfortunate that the coaches have settled for Enyeama ahead of him. It is clear, however, Nigeria will not lose a beat if he plays in substitute of Enyeama. Ejide is sure handed and has played 26 games at 79 minutes per.

Vincent Enyeama – Vince is Nigeria’s No.1 and an excellent shot stopper. Controls his goal area and very difficult to beat from distance. He is now the on-field captain of the national team and is more likely to become Nigeria’s first player to appear 100 times for the national team. His appearance count is now at 84 games with an average of 88 minutes per game. He has captained 18% of those games.

Chigozie Agbim – His build is stocky and muscular. His physique looks nothing like you will expect in a goal keeper. However, he is agile  and brave  but clearly No. 3 behind the first two goalkeepers. Agbim has captained all 5 of A games  of which he played 90 minutes.

Ambrose Efe – Efe is a defender with ability to bring the ball forward and play in the midfield. He has excellent technique with good defensive skills. He also scores his fair share of goals particularly with headers from set pieces. However, there is considerable doubt about his ability to go toe to toe defensively with speedy wide forwards. His positioning in the Confederations Cup led to Spain’s move for the opening goal. Stats: 28 appearances at an average of 81 minutes.

Godfrey Oboabona – Godfrey is a good defender, particularly in one and one situations. His long range passing out of the defense is under rated but might be the second best such passer besides Mikel Obi. His game has grown significantly under the coaches in the national team. He is good at set pieces particularly for his club and scored with one set piece in an away 1-1 draw for Nigeria against Namibia. However, sometimes he shows indecision when challenged in close quarters. Godfrey has played the full 90 minutes in all 25 appearances for Nigeria.

Azubike Egwueke – Azubike is a fast defender who uses his height to great advantage.  He is an all effort type and very decisive in dangerous situations. However, his tackling is not the best with only average anticipation. Additionally, he appears to lack top notch anticipation required in the middle of the defense. He averages 84 minutes in 14 games.

Elderson Echiejile – Elderson has grown exponentially with the national team after starting off as a shaky replacement for former international Taye Taiwo. He has since proven, over the long run, to be a surer defender than Taiwo.  He overlaps seamlessly with ability to recover in defense. Also has ability to score from his position. Sometimes he has problems against quick dribbling opposition. He has played in 34 games averaging 81 minutes.

Kenneth Omeruo – Omeruo is confident defender with great anticipation ability at the heart of the defense. His play and ability make him a clear choice over Nigeria’s former captain Joseph Yobo. However, his pace is questionable against very quick attackers but he is Nigeria’s most decisive defender. Unfortunately, some of the decisiveness leads to choosing to wildly clear the ball when there may be opportunity to start a counter. Also, sometimes he makes untimely forays up field that may expose his defense. In 14 games, he averages  74 minutes. 

Solomon Kwambe – He exploded with a  remarkable debut against Venezuela in Miami, USA. Since then, his game has slid a bit. He has very good attacking ability but decision making is questionable with poor in-game reading and display of irresponsibility in returning defensively. However, his future is bright if he improves his decision making.

Mikel Obi – Mikel is playing his best ball for Nigeria. Without question, he is Nigeria’s best player. He commands attention on the field and directs all attacking play from his position. Mikel reminds one of Diego Maradona – not necessarily in terms of technique on the ball but in dominating his team’s midfield play and orchestrating most of the team’s play. Perhaps, he is among the top ten players in the world with uncanny ability of keeping possession. Additionally, he is a supreme long ball passer and should win Africa’s Player of the Year for 2013. Thus far, he has scored four goals in 53 games with 82 minutes per game for his country.

Ogenyi Onazi – Ogenyi is Nigeria's energizer bunny on this team covering every blade of grass when on the field. He complements Mikel Obi and seats comfortably in front of Nigeria’s central defense. His weakness could be late tackling that often leads to cautions. Ogenyi appears to be a solid national team contributor for a long time into the future. Presently, he has appeared in 12 games and averaged 75 minutes.

John Ogu – Ogu passes the ball well but appears, always, a step slow.  Ogu joined the team with great promise but his pace is clearly below team average and he appears to struggle because of this. He is not likely to be a main stay as a starter on this team. However, he will be a reliable and efficient reserve. He has averaged 35 minutes in 7 games.

Sunday Mba – This is Nigeria's enigma.  Sometimes, his play is all world with crafty turn on the ball and unique technique to easily get around his marker. Additionally, he has a stunning shot from reasonable distance and wins free kicks in dangerous positions for Nigeria.  Other times, his game is completely off with poor first touch and a knack for losing the ball. His goal creating passing is average but when on, his ball possession is good. Sunday struck five goals in 17 appearances with 71 minutes per game for Nigeria.

Nosa Igiebor  -- Nosa is a very gifted player with a violent shot but his violence extends to mind boggling and excessive fouls against opponents. One such foul against a defenseless Venezuelan was horrific. Nosa's  ability to stick to team tactics is doubtful and led to his benching at the Nations Cup. However, his technique is unquestioned and he should get opportunities going forward. Presently he has 2 goals in 8 appearances and averaging 62 minutes per game for his country.

Fegor Ogude – Ogude is the team enforcer whose hard edge often sends a warning to opposing players. A major part of his game personality is giving maximum effort in each game in the mode of former international Peter Odemwingie. Ogude's defensive skill is tops among Nigeria’s midfielders and he has ability to link up play from his position. His downside is late tackles, sometimes reckless, that often lead to cautions. Fegor has averaged 65 minutes in 17 appearances.

Ahmed Musa – Musa is Nigeria’s fastest player who is frequently a handful for opposing defenders. Musa has ability to play both in the wings and centrally in forward positions. He is, bar none, Nigeria’s most dangerous weapon when playing in counter attacks after taking the lead in games. However, Musa is neither clinical in front of goal nor are his crosses top notch. The most concerning problem, however, is  his decision making when running with the ball. His current stats read five goals in 31 games and an average of 60 minutes per game.

Brown Ideye – Ideye is an all around forward with multiple abilities, including ball possession and holding up play. Ideye, however, has disappointed when in scoring position with several shocking misses.  However, his approach play in attack is very good. He has the tendency to become selfish on the ball and lose tactical discipline usually after Nigeria is ahead in a game. Ideye, a forward, has just 3 goals in 19 appearances with an average of 60 minutes per game.

Victor Moses – Moses is Nigeria’s most creative player besides Mikel Obi. He is a gifted ball player with good vision and ability to win free kicks in dangerous positions. He shares set piece duties with Mikel Obi. Moses was a significant contributor to the winning of the 2013 Cup of Nations. His downside is that he can disappear in a game due to close attention. The coaches have sought to help him by having him and other attackers switch positions during the course of several games. He currently has four goals in 13 games with 68 minutes average per game.

Emmanuel Emenike  -- Emenike is a deadly striker with 110% effort. He is very busy in attack probing, pressuring, and switching positions, and running behind the defense. Emenike is a consummate striker with ability to sniff out half chances. He has ability to invent violent shots. However, his style leads to frequent injuries but with Nigeria lacking an adequate substitute, this can be costly as Nigeria found out at the 2013 Confederations Cup. He has 5 goals in 14 games and averages 65 minutes per game.

Nnamdi Oduamadi – Oduamadi is a wing forward with quick moves to get past his marker. Unfortunately, his slight physical build is a problem as he is injured often.  His weakness includes very little contribution defensively and sometimes he overdoes the dribbling. Oduamadi is more suited as a reserve than as a starter. In just 8 games, Nnamdi has scored four goals and has played an average of 55 minutes.

**To learn more about Nigerian soccer statistics checkout CHUKASTATS at Amazon.com books.