Updated: Mar 3, 2022
Former youth midfield protege Kelechi Nwakali was a suprise inclusion to Nigeria's Afcon squad as he was effectively frozen out of the national team under erstwhile coach Gernot Rohr.
Although he plays in the Spanish La Liga 2 where he has no goals, assists or notable contributions for Huesca, Coach Eguavoen - enamoured with Nwakali's style of play - nonetheless handed him an invitation to represent Nigeria in the continental showpiece.
And Nwakali did not disappoint as he was mildly impressive in the games he played.
Sadly, he has not kicked a ball in club football after Nigeria's shock ouster from the tournament in January - almost 6 weeks ago.
After returning late to Huesca following Nigeria's exit, the club didn't buy his story of being too ill to travel. Hence he has been banned and frozen out of the team ever since making him inactive.
To be honest I am deeply disappointed about how Nwakali couldn’t leverage his gifted Afcon slot to slowly ingratiate himself into the national team by having stability in club football.
He showed great potentials in the tournament but now, fans will cry wolf if his name appears in the squad to prosecute the Ghana expedition as his inclement club situation should render him ineligible for consideration.
To see such a huge talent go waste is always a terrible thing (owing to how fantastic and precious he was in under age football) . His crosses, lobs, long balls from deep and set pieces were near-top notch at the Afcon.
Nwakali remains one of only a few Nigerian players capable of producing such outputs anywhere.
But nonchalance will rub him of his national team place and the chance to see what he truly can become may now never materialise more so should his club situation and stats fail to improve.
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