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3 Things We Learned From the Super Eagles’ October Friendlies

The Super Eagles returned to action in the past week with 2 friendlies against Algeria and Tunisia respectively. Those games were the first in almost a year and the lack of cohesion (due in no small part to fresh faces in the squad) was at times very visible to see. Despite this, here are a few takeaways from the two games:

NEW FULLBACK PAIRING LOOKS PROMISING

The fullback pairing of Tyrone Ebuehi on the right and Zaidu Sanusi on the left showed a lot of promise, particularly in the game against Algeria. Ebuehi was a live-wire all through, and Sanusi wasn’t shy to whip in a few decent crosses that were mostly not attacked by the forwards. Ebuehi didn’t start the subsequent game against Tunisia and Sanusi had to hobble of late in the game due to a groin problem. Hopefully we’ll see them both feature in the upcoming AFCON qualifiers.

TARGET-MAN SYSTEM IS NOT WORKING
Kelechi Iheanacho
Kelechi Iheanacho

Gernot Rohr’s insistence on using a Target-man into his tactical setup is still not reaping the desired rewards. Paul Onuachu gave an uninspiring performance in the role before coming off after 67 minutes. The lanky Genk forward was unable to hold up the ball properly and was mostly pedestrian for large parts of the game. Iheanacho did score in the subsequent game against Tunisia but ultimately, neither seem to be a fitting understudy to Victor Osimhen. Osimhen is a quicker and more direct option and poses a threat that the latter two forwards do not provide.

NEW FACES NEED TIME TO GEL
Cyriel Dessers makes his Super Eagles debut
Cyriel Dessers makes his Super Eagles debut

A lot of new faces were introduced into the squad during this international break and that has drastically reduced the team’s average age. However, these new faces need a bedding in period before they can be properly assessed. Kevin Akpoguma and Cyriel Dessers featured in the Tunisia game and the former had a torrid time in defence, but his potential is undeniable and he will most likely come good in the long run. The latter did show flashes of the form that saw him finish the abridged Dutch season as top scorer and could be a possible alternative to the aforementioned Osimhen.

What did you think of the Super Eagles’ performance over the two games ? Leave a comment or reaction below.

*Copyright © 2019 EaglesTracker – All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced, re-published, re-written or redistributed in whole or in part without the prior express written consent of EaglesTracker

INTERVIEW: Wale Musa Alli On His European Adventure

Wale Musa Alli is one of a number of promising young Nigerians currently earning their stripes all across Europe. The 19-year old left winger, who was born in Lagos, is a graduate of Greensprings School, Lekki and is currently on the books of Austrian second tier side, SKU Amstetten where he continues to impress. EaglesTracker caught up with him this week as he shared his experiences on life in Europe and his career aspirations.

INTERVIEW

ET: Hello Wale, would you mind giving us a brief Introduction?

ALLI: My name is Wale Musa Alli and I’m a winger for SKU Amstetten in the Austrian 2nd division. I play on the left side but I’m also very much capable on either flank. I featured for the Ekofootball Future Stars in Lagos before heading to Estonia where I played for JK Tallinna Kalev. My 4 goals and 12 assists in 35 appearances saw me move to my current club in January of this year.

ET: How did your love for Football start?

ALLI: I’ve loved football for a long time but I made up my mind to be a professional when I watched Ronaldinho in the colours of Barcelona and AC Milan in the late 2000s’, I try as much as possible to emulate his style of play. Lionel Messi further increased my love for the game in recent times. My dream is to one day play for Barcelona and with hard-work, consistency and dedication I believe I can achieve this dream.

ET: Tell us about your time so far in Europe

ALLI: It’s been quite an experience but I guess I can say I’ve encountered a little bit of everything. I’m someone who likes a challenge and an adventure so I don’t bother myself with the negative experiences and just try to focus on my performances on the pitch and remain positive.

ET: Could you elaborate on the negative experiences?

ALLI: Racial discrimination, which I experienced both on and off the pitch during my time in Estonia. It may have been subtle but I could tell when it was happening. That being said, I just brush it off and focus on my goals.

THE FUTURE

ET: What are your plans for the future?

ALLI: My immediate plans are to keep producing good performances for my current club and hopefully in the next 3-4 years, moving to one of the top European leagues. The ultimate goal however is to play for my beloved Barcelona, feature for the Super Eagles and hopefully bag the major individual accolades (Ballon d’ Or and African player of the year).

ET: Any advice for other rising talents looking to make it in the professional game?

ALLI: Have fun, be yourself, never be afraid to dream big, stay focused and most importantly, be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices. You have to be ready to put the game first if you want to make it.

ET: Thanks for speaking with us Musa

ALLI: Always a pleasure.

What do you think of Wale Musa Alli ? Leave a comment or reaction below.

*Copyright © 2019 EaglesTracker – All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced, re-published, re-written or redistributed in whole or in part without the express written consent of EaglesTracker

LEON BALOGUN GETTING BACK TO HIS BEST

Leon Balogun has had a stop-start introduction to life in the top tier of Scottish football. The German-born defender was part of the Super Eagles team at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and also featured as they finished third at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt.

He has been plagued by niggling muscle injuries since making his debut for Glasgow Rangers in early August vs Aberdeen. Despite a couple of set backs that have kept him out of games against Livingston, Kilmarnock, Dundee United, Hamilton and Lincoln Red Imps (Europa League), it seems that the other half of the ‘Oyinbo wall’ is getting back to the sort of form that earned him his first Super Eagles cap back in March 2014.

Balogun has been able to churn out impressive performances when he has featured at the heart of the rangers defence alongside Connor Goldson, with whom he has already earned two clean sheets in 3 appearances.

LEON BALOGUN RANGERS STATS SO FAR:

Leon Balogun for Rangers
Leon Balogun in action for Rangers

Games Played— 3

Minutes Played— 225

Passes Attempted— 172

Passes Completed— 156

Pass Accuracy — 90.7%

Duels Contested— 26

Tackles Made— 4

Aerial Duel Success — 88.24%

Clearances— 7

Interceptions— 6

The 32 year-old had a torrid time at Brighton, and his lack of appearances has seen him out of Eagles’ Coach Gernot Rohr’s plans in recent times. But if he keeps up this sort of form and hopefully stays fit, we might be seeing the ‘Oyibo Wall’ partnership making a welcome return very soon.

Rangers face Hibernian away in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday at 12pm CAT. They are currently top of the league, level on points with Celtic.

What do you think of Leon Balogun’s time at Rangers so far ? Leave a comment or reaction below.

AFCON 2013 FINAL STARTING XI: Where Are They Now?

The Super Eagles’ AFCON victory in 2013 was one that was unexpected to say the least, considering that most of the squad had never featured in Africa’s premier football competition. What is more telling is the fact that of the starting XI in the final vs Burkina Faso, only Kenneth Omeruo has featured recently for the national team.

Where are they all now? Let’s take a look


DEFENCE

GK: VINCENT ENYEAMA

At the time of the final, Enyeama had just concluded six fruitful years in Israel with 3 different clubs and had just signed for Lille LOSC. The rest they say, is history as he went on to be one of best African players in France during his time there. He has since retired from International duties but has not officially retired from club level and has been a free agent since he left Lille in 2018.

RB: EFE AMBROSE

The bulky full-back was a year into his stint with Scottish giants Celtic at the time of this final, and he has remained in Scotland ever since, most recently being on the books of Livingston FC.

RCB: KENNETH OMERUO

Omeruo was on loan at Dutch Eredivisie outfit ADO Den Haag from Chelsea at that point. He has since left the Blues and is currently starring for CD Leganes in the Spanish 2nd tier.

Embed from Getty Images

LCB: GODFREY OBOABONA

The towering CB was a member of the home-based contingent at the time, and his performances in the tournament earned him a move to Caykur Rizespor in the Turkish top flight. He can be found these days in Georgia with Dinamo Batumi.

LB: ELDERSON ECHIEJILE

Elderson, who was on the books of Stade Rennais in France at the time, is currently without a club after leaving HJK Helsinki of Finland.


MIDFIELD

RCM: OGENYI ONAZI

The energetic midfielder was a Lazio player at the time of this particular AFCON triumph, but has since had a prolonged spell in Turkey, with his last club being Denizlispor. He is currently a free agent.

LCM: JOHN OBI MIKEL

Erstwhile national team captain Mikel had a very decent performance in the final, he eventually called it a day on the International scene after the 2019 AFCON. He would go on to spend 4 more years at Chelsea before heading to the Far East with Tianjin Teda. He is currently back in England with Stoke City.


ATTACK

LWF: BROWN IDEYE

The journeyman forward was used in a wider role in the final, but went on to feature down the middle in the following years through stints in Ukraine, England, Greece and Turkey, where he’s presently on the books of Goztepe SK.

CAM: SUNDAY MBA

Mba was the match-winner on the night, but of the starting XI in the final, he seems to be the only one whose career has been on a downward spiral since. His performances in 2013 earned him a move to modest French outfit CA Bastia. He has been without a club since leaving Yeni Malatyaspor of Turkey in 2017.

RWF: VICTOR MOSES

Victor Moses made it to the team of the tournament with some eye-catching performances. He is the only player in this starting XI still performing at an elite level, with regular outings for Inter Milan in the past season.

CF: IKECHUKWU UCHE

Uche was a prolific striker at the time for Villareal in Spain, but was largely underutilised until the final of this particular tournament. He is currently without a club after leaving Gimnastic in the Spanish 2nd tier in the early part of 2019.

AFCON 2013 Final Starting XI
AFCON 2013 Final Starting XS

What do you think of the story ? Leave a comment or reaction below.

*Copyright © 2019 EaglesTracker – All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced, re-published, re-written or redistributed in whole or in part without the prior express written consent of EaglesTracker

EMEKA OBI PLAYS 90 MINUTES ON WIGAN LEAGUE DEBUT


Promising Nigerian born defender, Emeka Obi made his league debut for Wigan Athletic. He played all 90 mins in their 2-0 EFL League One defeat against Ipswich Town on Sunday.  

Obi started on the right side of defence, and had two chances to mark his first league appearance with a goal. After heading just wide from a corner kick, he blazed another header over the bar from close range. He had a decent game despite being on the losing side, and will be looking to cement his place in the heart of the Wigan defence for the rest of the season.

Embed from Getty Images

Emeka Obi wasn’t the only Nigerian to feature in the game. One-time Super Eagles invitee, Viv Solomon-Otabor also played 90 minutes for Wigan Athletic.

The Lagos-born defensive stalwart started his footballing education at the now defunct Bury FC in 2016. He then went on to feature at academy level for Liverpool, before joining Wigan in 2018.

What do you think ? Leave a comment or reaction below.


*Copyright © 2019 EaglesTracker – All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced, re-published, re-written in whole or in part without the express written consent of EaglesTracker

AROKODARE CONTINUES TO SHINE IN LATVIA

Tolu Arokodare is not a name that too many Nigerians would be familiar with in the football scene, but the young striker is blazing a trail in the top flight of Latvian football with Valmiera FC. He netted last weekend against FK Jelgava in their Optibet Virsliga match, taking his season tally to 15 goals in 15 games, also making him the league’s top marksman.

Arokodare picked up where he left off last season, when he scored 7 goals and catapulted Valmiera to the Europa League play-offs. He is well on his way to sealing this season’s golden boot award. Arokodare has already surpassed Adeleke Akinyemi, who was the highest scoring Nigerian in Latvia, for FK Ventspils, in 2018.

Arokodare recently picked up the league’s Player of the Month award for July (pictured above), after scoring 5 goals in 7 games. He will be looking to add to his goal tally when his club squares up with Polish giants, Lech Poznan in the first round of the Europa League Play-offs on Thursday.

What do you think of the transfer ? Leave a comment or reaction below.


**Copyright © 2019 EaglesTracker – All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced, re-published, re-written or redistributed in whole or in part without the prior express written consent of EaglesTracker.

Meet one of the Premier League’s dirtiest footballers, who played with Jay-Jay Okocha

The Premier League has produced some of the most elegant and graceful players to ever grace the game, names like Jay-Jay Okocha, Cristiano Ronaldo and Eden Hazard come to mind. The League has also produced some of the dirtiest, scrappiest, and roughest footballers who are uncompromising when it comes to getting the ball.

The player being profiled is a former teammate of the aforementioned Okocha and most definitely epitomises the phrase ‘at all costs’, with his bullish style of play leading him to bagging more than a basket-full of cautions in his career. This player is not a ‘no nonsense’ defender or a battle-hardened midfielder, but a Centre Forward. The man is none other than Bolton Wanderers Legend, Kevin Davies.

The one-time England International was a brutish target-man, who frequently committed fouls by elbowing opposition defenders and lunging into mistimed tackles, often leading to bookings on each occasion. In summer 2003, he joined Bolton having been released by Southampton. In a season where he rediscovered his best form, he scored ten times and started every league match.

In his Bolton career, Davies committed over 1,000 fouls, more than any other Premier League player in the competition’s history to date. On 11 February 2012, he became the joint holder of the record for most yellow cards in Premier League history, alongside former Leeds United star, Lee Bowyer; not the kind of record you would associate with an experienced striker. To put his record into context, Davies had more bookings (99) than Premier League goals (88).

Embed from Getty Images

Davies hung up his boots in 2015, after a brief spell at Preston North End in the English 3rd tier after 22 years in the professional game and most older fans of the English Premier League will surely remember the bulky Englishman for his aggressive style of play.

Which other Premier League old boys do you remember? Let me know in the comments.

**Copyright © 2019 EaglesTracker – All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced, re-published, re-written or redistributed in whole or in part without the prior express written consent of EaglesTracker.