Nigerian stars blown into oblivion

They showed a lot of promise when they played for Nigeria but soon faded away when they should have been calling the shots at the Super Eagles. Idris Adesina takes a look at Nigerian players, who have slipped into oblivion

Sunday Mba

Mba will always be remembered for his lone goal against Burkina Faso in the final of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, which won Nigeria its third continental title on February 10, 2013. His goal in the final was a scorcher, after getting the better of a Burkinabe defender.

The former Warri Wolves forward was one of the six home-based players discovered by the late former Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi. Before the final, Mba caught the eyes with his powerful display in the quarterfinals against Ivory Coast, where he scored the winning goal for the Eagles in their 2-1 victory over the Ivoirians.

After the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, he was a subject of disagreement between Enugu Rangers and Wolves before he left the country for CA Bastia in the third tier of French football in 2014. He scored four goals in 16 appearances for the club before moving to Yeni Malatyaspor in Turkey in 2015. He has played 36 matches and scored eight goals for the club – two of which have come this season. His contract with the Turkish second tier side will end in June 2018. Malatyaspor currently sit atop the league with 25 points after 10 matches.

The 27-year-old, who has yet to return to the national team since Keshi left the team in 2015, was left out of Nigeria’s squad to the Brazil 2014 World Cup. He was however a part of the Eagles team to the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Nnamdi Oduamadi

Another of Keshi’s revelation in the Eagles, Oduamadi gained attention at the 2013 Confederation Cup after scoring a hat-trick in Nigeria’s 6-1 defeat of Tahiti as Nigeria finished third in Group B.

Before then, the former U-17 star scored Nigeria’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Kenya in a 2014 World Cup qualifier on March 23, 2013 at the U J Esuene Stadium, Calabar.

Oduamadi, who was a product of the Pepsi Football Academy, left the country in 2010 for AC Milan in Italy but only featured in one match for the senior team. The 26-year-old had been on spells at several clubs in Italy.

He has gone on loan to Torino, Varese, Brescia, Crotone and Calcio. He however spent the latter part of 2015 at Turkish club, Sanliurfa, before joining HJK Helsinki in the Finland Premier League in 2016.

His loan spell in Finland ended in September as he finished second with Helsinki in the league, scoring seven goals in 28 appearances.

Like Mba, Oduamadi also missed out on the final list of players for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and has yet to make a return to the team since 2013.

Ejike Uzoenyi

Another Keshi-discovered star, Uzoenyi, was a part of the six home-based players at the 2013 AFCON but he came into limelight after his brilliant performance at the 2014 African Nations Championship in South Africa. The former Rangers midfielder, who was named player of the tournament, scored three goals as the Eagles finished third.

He signed a four-year deal with South African club, Mamelodi Sundowns, immediately after the tournament.

Uzoenyi went on to feature in 10 matches for the club before falling down the pecking order. He has however found playing time hard to come by and was recently reported to be training with Supersports United in the Premier Soccer League.

The 28-year-old was also named in the provisional squad for the 2014 World Cup, making the final squad after defender Elderson Echiejile was excluded because of injury.

Uche Nwofor

Former U-20 striker, Nwofor, became noticed in the national team in a friendly match against South Africa in July 2013, where he scored two goals. Nwofor was tipped to battle Fernabache star, Emmanuel Emenike, for the Eagles striking role but later fizzled out of the team.

The 25-year-old scored a last minute equaliser in the Eagles 2-2 draw with Scotland in the build-up to the 2014 World Cup, which earned him a place in the team as Nigeria finished in the round of 16 in Brazil.

The former VVV Venlo forward, who scored 13 goals in 57 appearances for the Belgian club, is currently playing for AS Trencin in Slovakia.

Michael Uchebo

Popularly called Flavour after the Nigerian highlife musician because of his hairstyle, Nigeria midfielder, Uchebo, who currently plays for Boavista in the Portuguese Primera Liga, was a surprise inclusion in the Eagles Brazil 2014 World Cup team.

Uchebo played his first match for the Eagles in March 2014 against Mexico, which ended goalless. He scored his first goal for Nigeria in the 2-2 draw against Scotland in a friendly ahead of the 2014 World Cup. He featured in only one match – in the 3-2 loss against Argentina.

Rabiu Ibrahim

Dubbed the next Jay-Jay Okocha after his exploits for the country at the 2007 U-17 World Cup, which Nigeria won, Ibrahim made his Eagles debut in June 2015 in a 2-0 win over Chad in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

However, he only played for 30 minutes of the match before he was substituted following an injury. Since then, the former AS Trencin player has yet to be called to the national team.

Known for his creative ability and precise passes, Ibrahim failed to shine in the national team when he got his chance under former Nigeria coach, Sunday Oliseh.

The 25-year-old is currently playing for Belgian side Gent, who he joined at the start of the season along with other Nigerians like Anderson Esiti and Moses Simon.

Michael Babatunde

Babatunde’s failure to hold on to a regular club has often been said to be responsible for his continuous omission from the national squad.

A member of Keshi’s team to the 2014 World Cup, where he played in two of Nigeria’s four matches, he got injured in the Eagles 3-2 loss to Argentina. The 23-year-old  played his first  international match in the 2-2 friendly draw against Mexico in June 2013. He also played in the 2013 Confederation Cup in Brazil. He has yet to score a goal for the country.

After a four-year stay in Ukraine, which ended in December 2015 at Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, the 23-year-old joined Raja Casablanca in Morocco, where he played 13 matches and scored six goals. However, in May, he joined Qatari second division side Qatar SC.

Joel Obi

His career has been blighted by injuries – and his international career has suffered a lot. The 25-year-old, who was at Inter Milan in the Italian Serie A since 2010, joined Torino in 2015.

After making a few appearances for the country in 2011, Obi got injured and was out of the national team for a long while. He returned when he was named in the preliminary squad for the 2014 World Cup, playing in the 2-2 draw against Scotland in a friendly. He however missed the final list for the competition.  He has not been invited to the national team since he was snubbed for the World Cup in Brazil.

Sone Aluko

Fulham forward Aluko recently regained his form at the Championship side Fulham, after being released at the end of last season by Hull City.

The 27-year-old, who shunned England for Nigeria, missed out on the 2010 World Cup and the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after making the initial list on both occasions. He has made seven appearances and scored two goals for Nigeria.

Aaron Samuel

Currently on loan at CSKA, striker Samuel shot to national limelight during the qualifiers for the 2015 AFCON, scoring two goals as Nigeria failed to qualify for the continent’s football showpiece.

The 22-year-old, who is currently injured and billed to return to action in January, has scored two goals in seven matches for CSKA.

Samuel was last invited by interim Eagles coach, Samson Siasia, for the double-header 2017 AFCON qualifiers against Egypt in March.

He has seven caps and has scored two goals for Nigeria.

Chrisantus Macaulay

Along with Rabiu Ibrahim, Chrisantus won the   South Korea 2007 FIFA  Under-17  World Cup. He emerged as the tournament’s top scorer with seven goals. He won the Silver Ball while Germany and Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kross won the Golden Ball.A good right-footer, Chrisantus was tipped to challenge for a role in the Super Eagles in the future after South Korea 2007 but soon faded  away after playing at the  2009  FIFA Under-20 World Cup   in Egypt. He currently plays for Deportiu Reus in the Spanish lower league. The 26-year-old joined the club at the start of the season after leaving AEK Athens, where he scored seven goals in 24 appearances. He has made only three appearances for Reus and yet to score a goal.

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