2021 was a year filled with happy memories for some Nigerian Footballers.
Samuel Chukwueze won the UEFA Europa League with Villarreal. Asisat Oshoala did the treble (UEFA Women’s Champions League, Spanish Primera Iberdrola and Spanish Copa de la Reina) with Barcelona. Wilfred Ndidi & Iheanacho won the English FA Cup with Leicester amongst many others.
Who do we expect to shine in 2022 ? Who is on the verge of a breakout year ? Here are our Top 10 Nigerian Players to Watch in 2022.
As the month of November draws to an end, here’s the EaglesTracker Nigerian Team of the Week for this past weekend of action.
Goalkeeper – Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs)
Daniel Akpeyi marked his 50th clean sheet in all for South African club side Kaizer Chiefs in their 1-0 league win over Maritzburg United. He followed up with yet another impressive outing away from home in a 3-1 win over Swallows to keep the pressure on Mamelodi Sundowns as they sit second on the table, eight points behind the league leaders.
Left Centre Back – Calvin Bassey (Rangers)
Calvin Bassey has enjoyed life in the Scottish Premier League after moving from Leicester in the summer of 2020. The athletic defender was particularly impressive as his side beat Livingston 3-1 to maintain their lead as table toppers with 33 points, that’s 4 points better than second place Celtic.
Centre Back – Igoh Ogbu (Lillestrom)
At the heart of the defence, Igoh Ogbu was a rock as his Norwegian side Lillestrøm beat Stomsgodset 4-1 to maintain their fourth-place spot in the league table.
Ogbu was unfortunate to be subbed out of the game, but while he was on, the 21-years-old had an easy time keeping the opposition attack at bay.
Right Centre Back – Kelechi Christian (Casa Pia AC)
Kelechi Christian equally had a good shift in the Liga Portugal 2 as his side Casa Pia picked up all three points away from home to Farense.
Christian ensured the opposition attack had nothing to feed on, as his side cruised to victory, picking up a clean sheet as well as an important win.
Left Midfield – Joe Aribo (Rangers)
Another player from Rangers making our team is Joe Aribo. The talented midfielder stole the show in Gio van Bronckhorst’s first win as a manager, while also getting a goal to his name.
Aribo has grown in leaps and bounds, as top clubs in Europe continue to monitor his progress. He has also been touted by many as arguably Rangers’ best player so far this season.
Centre Midfield – Tom Dele-Bashiru (Reading)
Tom Dele Bashiru scored his fourth goal for Reading as they played a five-goal thriller against Swansea.
The talented midfielder provided the first equaliser as his side went on to win 3-2 against a difficult opposition. Bashiru nearly got a second as his shot hit the post but fell kindly for teammate Danny Drinkwater who cooly converted.
Centre Midfield – Ifeanyi Mathew (Lillestrom)
Ifeanyi Matthew is the second player from Norwegian Eliteserien club Lillestrøm to make our Team of the Week. The versatile midfielder played 71 minutes of his side’s 4-1 win over Stomsgodset as they stay within earshot of the league leaders.
Right Midfield – Akinkunmi Amoo (Hammarby)
Akinkunmi Amoo has been a revelation for Swedish side Hammarby all season long. The 19-year-old winger has had 18 direct goal contributions in 2021 alone for his club side but failed to inspire his side to a win last time out as Hammarby were held to a goalless draw against 13th placed Halmstad.
His club side remains fifth on the log, 8 points behind Malmo and could yet challenge for a Europa Conference League qualifiers finish.
Left Forward – Emmanuel Dennis (Watford)
Emmanuel Dennis continued his impressive start to life in the Premier League playing for Watford. The pacy winger proved too difficult for Leicester as he got on the scoresheet in a 4-2 loss to Leicester, but still asked a lot of the Foxes defence.
Its unfortunate that he was subbed off injured, as he’s been the Hornet’s main attack force.
Right Forward – Samuel Chukwueze
While Villareal lost to Barcelona at the Spanish La Liga, Samuel Chukwueze finally got off the mark with a goal from his first shot on target in the league this season.
Naturally he was difficult to contain by the Catalans, further showing that Barcelona are his favourite opponents, and despite the 3-1 loss, Chukwueze looked closer to his previous explosive form of last season.
Centre Forward – Emeka Eze (Ankara Kenciorengucu)
Ankara Keciorengucu’s Emeka Eze leads our attacking trident thanks to his hattrick contribution as his side beat league leaders Umraniyespor in a five-goal thriller.
Despite the hard-fought battle, a harder fight will be needed for his side this season as they sit two spots from bottom.
However, if they can get their star striker to deliver more goals in clutch moments, they could just turn the season around.
What do you think of this week’s team ? Who missed out ? Leave a comment or reaction below.
In a month filled with top top performances from Nigerian footballers abroad, Stephen Odey stole the show to become EaglesTracker’s Nigerian Player of The Month.
Odey is known for his speed, agility and quick reactions, notably some of his greatest attributes, and these are being felt by his current team side FC Randers and indeed the Danish Super Liga.
The former FC Zurich star has been an instant hit to his loan side. Odey has scored 11 goals in 13 appearances for his team across all competitions so far this season. He also bagged four league goals in October alone, including a beautiful match winner against Odense.
It comes as no surprise that the 23-year-old was voted the best player in the Danish Super Liga for the month of October.
The Forward bags our Nigerian Player of the Month award for his heroics, especially in the UEFA Conference League where he scored a brace in 2-2 draw against Jablonec FK.
Odey’s recent run of goal scoring form has also seen him receive a massive influx of support. Paul Onuachu and Asisat Oshoala both sent their congratulations.
Untold Stories of Nigerian Football with Dickson Nwakaeme
Recently retired striker, Dickson Nwakaeme sat down virtually with AyoT of EaglesTracker to discuss some of the lesser known stories of his life and football journey.
In Part 1 of the Untold Stories of Nigerian Football Series, Dickson Nwakaeme speaks about his upbringing, his journey from growing up in Ajegunle, going for trials in Togo, playing football and begging on the streets of Senegal all the way to making it in professional football.
I ran through how our Super Eagles players performed in the top European leagues over the weekend including Emmanuel Dennis getting a goal & 2 assists in Watford’s exceptional 5-2 win over Alex Iwobi’s Everton at Goodison Park to hand Claudio Ranieri his first win as Watford’s manager.
In the Bundesliga, Taiwo Awoniyi continued his fantastic start to the season scoring his 7th league goal of the campaign in Union Berlin’s 1-1 draw away to Stuttgart while also scoring in the UEFA Conference League on Thursday in a 3-1 loss away to Feyenoord.
Chidera Ejuke also continued his excellent form scoring yet again in CSKA Moscow’s 3-1 win against Sovetov Samara to go 3rd in the Russian League In Italy, Victor Osimhen scored his 4th goal in the Europa League so far as Napoli beat Legia Warsaw 3-0 and David Okereke also got on the scoresheet in Venezia’s 3-1 loss away to Sassuolo.
Samuel Chukwueze also scored his 1st Champions League goal on his Champions League debut in Villarreal’s impressive 4-1 win away against Young Boys while Akinkunmi Amoo continued his great form for Hammarby in the Swedish top flight with a last minute winner as they beat Ostersunds 4-3 at home In international news.
The Super Falcons beat Ghana 2-1 on aggregate to progress to the final round of qualifying for the AWCON where they’ll face the Ivory Coast while NFF president, Amaju Pinnick also confirmed that Leicester’s Ademola Lookman was in the process of switching allegiance from England to Nigeria, which is positive news for our squad depth I also previewed the upcoming fixtures happening over the coming week
Reactions from a viewing centre in Nigeria as Mo Salah bags a hat-trick in Liverpool’s thrashing of Manchester United at Old Trafford. Ole’s men at the lowest of lows and even for the match sef no Pogba, e enter second half come collect RED CARD. Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno no end product.. all cries are for Ole to go.
Back from the international break and It’s been an amazing return to club football with impressive displays from many Nigerian players.
Here’s the EaglesTracker Nigerian Team of the Week for Oct 15-18, 2021.
GOALKKEEPER – CHIAMAKA NNADOZIE
In goal, 20-year-old Chiamaka Nnadozie proved why she’s the number one shot-stopper for Paris FC in the French Division 1 Féminine.
Nnadozie has been particularly impressive this season, with performances reminiscent of her title winning NWPL campaign with Rivers Angels.
Her brilliance in goal over the weekend was capped with a clean sheet as Paris FC demolished placed Soyaux-Charente 4-0.
Nnadozie’s superb form has helped Paris FC to occupy third spot on the league table. They sit only three points behind joint leaders, Lyon and Paris Saint Germain.
LEFT BACK – JAMILU COLLINS
Jamilu Collins makes the cut as our left-back of the week. His German Bundesliga 2 team, SC Paderborn played out a 1-1 draw against Jahn Regensburg.
Collins played all 90 minutes of the match. He completed three tackles, and constantly made it difficult for the opposition attacker.
CENTRE BACK – GODSWILL EKPOLO
On the right side of centre back, Godswill Ekpolo deputises. He put in a fantastic display in BK Hacken’s 4-0 victory on Monday, making 4 clearances and 4 tackles.
CENTRE BACK – SEMI AJAYI
West Brom’s Semi Ajayi partners with Ekpolo to complete our pairing at the heart of defence.
Ajayi was part of a three-man Baggies defence that earned a ha-fought 1-0 victory over Birmingham in the EFL Championship. The win sees West Brom maintain second spot on the table, as they chase immediate promotion back to the Premier League.
RIGHT BACK – VICTOR MOSES
The industrious Victor Moses was in good form for Spartak Moscow this past weekend. He played all 90 minutes as his side came from behind to earn a late draw against Dynamo Moscow.
Seventh place Spartak have been struggling for form, but Moses has remained largely impressive so far this season.
CENTRE MIDFIELD – SAMSON TIJANI
19-year-old Samson Tijani makes our pick for the left side of centre midfield. His first Team of the Week appearance in 2021/2022.
Tijani did the dirty job in Liefering’s midfield, making 6 tackles and 3 interceptions as they beat LASK Juniors 2-0.
CENTRE MIDFIELD – AYOTOMIWA DELE-BASHIRU
Tom Dele-Bashiru takes our second midfield spot for his heroics in the English EFL Championship with Reading FC. Reading survived a narrow 1-0 win over Barnsley, which moved them to 7th on the league table. He made 2 key passes during the 90 mins.
LEFT FORWARD – CHIDERA EJUKE (STAR)
This could only have gone to Chidera Ejuke, a man already poised to become one of Nigeria’s biggest footballing exports.
The 23-year-old has been consistent throughout the season. Dazzling in the Russian Premier League with his quick feet and twinkle toes, Ejuke is simply a joy to watch.
On the other flank is “little man”, Akinkunmi Amoo. His 80th minute goal for Hammarby IF sealed an impressive 1-0 victory over AIK and earned him a spot in our Team of the Week.
CENTRE FORWARD – SIMEON NWANKWO
Although Salernitana lost to Spezia in the Italian Serie A, on-loan player Simy Nwankwo finally got off the mark. He scored his first Serie A goal for Salernitana in their 2-1 defeat. He also created two chances for his side who currently sit at the bottom of the league table.
Naturally, we’ll expect more goals to come from the Crotone loanee.
CENTRE FORWARD – VICTOR OSIMHEN
Victor… Osimhen!!! was the chant at the Diego Maradona stadium after the 22-year-old Nigeria international fired Napoli back to the top of the Italian Serie A table.
Osimhen is growing into a crowd favourite in Naples, and once again proved why they spent so much money to sign him. He rose highest in the 81st minute to head Elif Elmas’ cross past Torino’s goalkeeper and hand Napoli the win with only nine minutes to go.
Osimhen has scored five goals in seven league appearances so far this season and does not look to be slowing down anytime soon.
What do you think of the Team of the Week? Who missed out? Leave a comment or reaction below.
FC Union Berlin striker, Taiwo Awoniyi spoke exclusively to EaglesTracker
EaglesTracker caught up exclusively with 24-year old striker, Taiwo Awoniyi, who recently earned his first call up, and made his debut in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying defeat against Central African Republic.
“It has always been one of my greatest dreams and to be able to have the opportunity (to play for Nigeria) is a privilege and honour which I’m happy about, and all glory to God for making it possible.”
Taiwo spoke about the depth of quality currently in the Super Eagles, and how he sees this as an opportunity not to elevate himself, but to fight for the nation.
“Nigeria is a country full of talents and great players. I hope and work for victory as that is the goal of the national team. I personally don’t see it as place you have to set personal glory or achievements for yourself, but a place to represent the colour and fight for the nation, for success on every outing, and that’s my only aim.“
Taiwo did not forget to thank the fans for their support, and he of course reserves all Glory for God, who he believes makes all things possible
“Thanks to all the fans for their support as it means a lot no matter how little. I am just a boy full of hope, dreams, and above all, connected to the only one who makes all things possible.“
“I believe there’s more to come, with God’s help, hard work and dedication.”
“First of all, I want to give thanks to God, he made it possible. I really can’t explain how I felt making my debut. It was like a dream come true, I was sooo happy, the joy was too much.
Michael expressed his surprise at even being called up for the games in the first place, “I was really surprised. I didn’t expect or believe it until I got to the Eagles camp and had my first training. Then I realized it was all real and true.“
Looking forward to the next opportunity to put on the green and white jersey of Nigeria, Michael asks for the fans support, while promising to play from the heart always. “I want the fans to keep supporting me because there is room for improvement, and watch for the heart that I play with. I love them all, thank you.”
Were you impressed by Kingsley Michael’s Super Eagles debut ?