With Sadiq Umar continuing to make waves in Serbia with performances that captivate as well as excite, some now believe that it is not a question of whether or rather when he will be invited to the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
According to one Source, Umar Sadiq is now Nigeria's highest goal contributor in Europe in the 2019-2020 season, with a hand in 33 goals (17 goals, 16 assists) from 38 appearances in all competitions in Serbia. Many of the goals and assists were convincingly and stylishly dispatched akin in manner expected of world class centre forwards in high profile leagues.
But that it is the problem, the Serbian league is not seen as high calibre enough for the Super Eagles in an era where other viable options can be found in the Premier Leagues of England, France and Holland.
But does it have to come down to a player playing in a high profile league to earn invitation to the Super Eagles? What I think is that it takes more than just playing in a high profile league.
I think skills, application, potentials and aptitude for international football are germain to considering a player for the national team. Think about 2013 Afcon, Sunday Mba of Enugu Rangers did what Nosa Igiebor of Real Betis couldn’t do by claiming a strangle hold of Nigeria’s midfield and taking 2 crucial games by the scruff of the neck to power Nigeria to Afcon glory.
I am not necessarily clamouring for homebased players to be invited to the Super Eagles. Rather, I am merely using this example to illustrate that a player does not have to be playing in glamorous leagues for them to be impactful in the national team. I think Sadiq Umar has what it takes to dislodge some of the current centre forward options for the Super Eagles.
I will use the listings below to suggest striker that Sadiq Umar can potentially dislodge and those he cannot:
Iheanacho: the fact that he is playing in England and scoring goals make him rank above Sadiq Umar easily. Coupled with his national team experience, Sadiq cannot dislodge Iheanacho at this time. Osimhen: the league he plays and his impact for club and country means that this is another player way beyond the reach of Sadiq Umar at this time. Barring a dramatic loss of form or injury, Osimhen is the de facto Super Eagles number 9.
Ighalo: it’s a no brainer; should Ighalo elect to come out of retirement, then Umar’s chances in the Super Eagles are severely curtailed. Ighalo playing for Manchester United and being a firm Rohr favourite are factors that will not work in Umar’s favour. Possibilities
Dessers: although he plays in the Netherlands, I firmly believe that Umar can give Dessers a run for his Super Eagles money. We are yet to see how well Dessers will adapt to national team football. Although Sadiq Umar plays in Serbia, he can nonetheless point to his exploits in the Europa League and his performances in the 2016 Olympics as tell tale signs of his tried and tested adaptability (a key ingredient for national team success, regardless of where you play your football). Josh Maja: again, Sadiq Umar can hope to leverage his performances in the Europa league and Olympic football exposure as evidence that he has what it takes to thrive in the national team ahead of an unproven international football striker who struggles for gametime in admittedly a more illustrious league. Onyekuru: I have actually seen Onyekuru play as a striker so I see the logic behind you listing him as a centre forward. However, these day, Onyekuru plays more as a winger. As a result, he is not a direct threat to Umar’s Super Eagles chances. Furthermore, Onyekuru has struggled in club football and for the national team recently. He runs the serious risk of fading into international football oblivion unless he rediscovers his blistering form of seasons gone by when playing in Belgium.
Onuachu: yes Onuachu plays in Belgium but he has struggled for the Super Eagles since his one and only goal against Egypt in March 2019. Now no longer a fan favourite and seemingly losing the faith of national team handlers (who excluded him from the last Super Eagles list), Sadiq Umar has a realistic chance of taking the place of Onuachu in the Super Eagles. Odey: for me, Umar’s heroics and headline grabbing performances for Partizan Belgrade in domestic football and in the Europa League put him firmly ahead of Odey when it comes to national team consideration at this time. Awoniyi: it is not enough for a player to be registered with a German Bundesliga club, they also have to be playing regularly and making appreciable impact. So, Taiwo Awoniyi is far away from national team consideration at this time. He presents 0 threat to Sadiq Umar’s national team chances. Olayinka: this is a tricky one. Olayinka is already an established fringe Super Eagles team player. The chances of Sadiq Umar sneaking to that ‘fringe’ position is six of one and half a dozen of the other. But the possibilities exist.
Simmy Nwankwo: Although he still scores bags full of goals in the Italian division 2, I get the sense that his place as a fringe Super Eagles striker is up for grabs. This is because the lanky striker has been largely overlook by Super Eagles coaches after the World Cup of 2018. Sadiq Umar can cash in on Simmy's exclusions.