Afcon Qualifiers Preview: Super Eagles Midfielders
This is the third in a 4-part series in which Afrofooty previews Super Eagles players ahead of this month's Afcon qualifier double against Sierra Leone.
Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey): The Turkey-based midfielder has been ever present for Bursaspor in the Turkish tier 2 as they push for automatic promotion back to their Premier League where (I believe) Shehu would like to be playing his football. In an era where Nigeria has quality options to pick from in more glamorous leagues, some will raise an eyebrow on Shehu’s relevance to this current affluently talented Super Eagles side. His drive and eloquent cut back for Iwobi’s goal against Zambia in a World cup qualifier remains pleasantly fresh in my mind. Etebo Oghenekaro (Getafe FC, Spain): Playing as a winger, Etebo shone like a million stars for his club in the Spanish La Liga recently. But, the questions remain as to why he does not perform with such ruthless efficiency week in week out in his centre midfield role. Etebo has been absent for the Super Eagles recently. As much as most love him, if we ask the question: ‘was Etebo missed?’ it will be interesting what the overwhelming response will be owing to how Aribo has performed in his absence. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England): This is one player that can do no wrong in the eyes of many Super Eagles fans. Although Ndidi committed the foul that led to the free kick that the magical Mahrez buried against Nigeria in the Afcon semi-finals, many were quick to either overlook his path in the mishap or were quick to forgive the Leicester City midfield maestro. Akpeyi wasn’t (isn’t) so lucky. Ndidi is fans-favorite number one!
Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland): Aribo must arguably be the most popular dual nationality player for the Super Eagles at this time. His goals against Ukraine and then Brazil coupled with his all round play instantly endeared him to Super Eagles fans thereby propelling him to superstar status overnight. He brings balance, poise, steel and fluidity to the heart of the Super Eagles midfield. The question now is: should he give way for Etebo? Ramon Azeez (Granada FC, Spain): You get the sense that Azeez has to be playing regularly (and playing well) for him to continue to be relevant to this Super Eagles set up. That seems obvious but Rohr has his favourites which he may be willing to “look away” if they have “indifferent” club performances. I don’t think Azeez belongs to that group.