Every World Cup year at this time, the debate comes up on who should be in a country’s team to the Mundial.

This debate is not peculiar to Nigeria.

In 1994, the Cameroonians argued over whether 39 year old Roger Milla should be at the World Cup or not. Eventually he was, and scored in their 6-1 loss to Russia.

In 1998, it was the Argentines arguing over Coach Daniel Pasarella’s policy to drop players with long hair, earrings and homosexual tendencies.

Fernando Redondo and Claudio Caniggia eventually refused to play for Passarella and were excluded from the squad to the World Cup.

In 2002, the Brazilians argued about Romario playing. He was in top form but Scolari, the manager just would not let him into his team.

Nigeria have never been far from these controversies.

In 1994 there were fears that Clemens Westahof would drop Samson Siasia from the final squad for the World Cup.

Siasia who had struck a near perfect partnership with Rashidi Yekini fell out of favour when he failed to pass the ball to Yekini in a World Cup Qualifying match in Abidjan in 1993.

He tried to score himself but missed and was promptly dropped for Daniel Amokachi.

Another controversial point was the dropping of Nduka Ugbade who had previously played at the U16 World Cup in 1985, the U20 World Cups in 1987 and 1989.

He was angling to be the first player to feature in all categories of FIFA World Cups.

In 1998, some Nigerians thought Samson Siasia, Jonathan Akpoborie and Gabriel Okolosi should have made the team to the World Cup and it caused heated debates; same also was the debate on who should be goalkeeper after injuries to Joseph Dosu and Ike Shorunmu as well as poor forms exhibited by Emmanuel Babayaro and Abiodun Baruwa. Eventually, Peter Rufai was recalled from his holiday.

And in 2002 players like Sunday Oliseh, Finidi George, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, and Victor Agali were dropped from the team with four months to the World Cup.

In 2014, with Stephen Keshi as manager, the debates have raged since he first dropped Ike Uche from a match day squad in March 2013 and Osaze Odemwingie from the AFCON 2013 squad.

So who are the key players Nigeria may not have at the World Cup?

Who are these eleven players Nigeria’s would argue about to have back in the team?

Who are Nigeria’s missing XI

Dele Aiyebugba:

Dele Aiyebugba has been part of the Super Eagles set up since 2005 and currently plays his football in Israel with Bnei Yehuda.

His last known game for the Super Eagles was the AFCON 2012 final qualifying game in Abuja against Guinea that finished 2-2 and ended Nigeria’s chances of playing at the competition.

Folks would argue that he may be a better choice than Chigozie Agbim or any other goalkeeper in the Nigerian League and should return as third choice behind Vincent Enyeama and Austin Ejide

Apam Onyekachi:

Apam’s last game for the Eagles was in March 2010 against DR Congo. It was a friendly match and he played all 90 minutes alongside Ike Thankgod in central defence. Nigeria won 5-2 in Abuja.

He signed for Rennes in the summer of 2010 but a long term injury meant he did not play any game for more than one year.

He has played less than forty games for Rennes since 2010 but there are a few who think he still deserves a chance with the Super Eagles.

Dele Adeleye:

Adeleye was a squad player with the team up until the end of the Samson Siasia era in 2012.

Between then and now he has moved from Tavriya Simferopol to Kuban Krasnodar, Anzhi Makhachkala and now Ergotelis.

His club form has however, not given the national team handlers much cause to hand him a recall.

He played 19 times for Tavriya, didn’t get a game for Kuban, managed 13 games for Anzhi and has only played 4 times for Ergotelis.

Joseph Yobo:

Joseph Yobo has not played for the Super Eagles since the AFCON in 2013.
His club form at Turkish side, Fernabache did not help his cause as he managed only two games between August and December 2013.
However, since he moved to Norwich on loan he has returned to playing regularly and was called up in the Eagles last game against Mexico which he turned down citing injury.
He is the long term captain of the team and has leadership qualities that the group will benefit from.

Taiye Taiwo:

Taiye Taiwo has been a part of the Super Eagles since the AFCON in 2006, but has not been called up since Stephen Keshi’s 2nd competitive game in charge.
Stephen Keshi first decided to stick with the duo of Elderson Echiejile and Juwon Oshaniwa and in recent times Benjamin Francis and Erhun Obanor but with Taiwo featuring 18 times for Bursaspor this season already, he may just stake a claim for a recall.
He is good with dead balls, something the team has benefited from in the past.

Fengor Ogude:

Brutish Ogude was part of Keshi’s team up till the AFCON while the gaffer still tinkered with his combinations.
But Ogude has been left out ever since Ogenyi Onazi and Mikel Obi struck the near perfect midfield combo.
Though he was part of the team at the FIFA Confederations Cup, he has further been pushed down the line with the arrival of John Ogu to the team.
He is big, strong and a fighter. He is dirty too and always risks a sending off.

Yusuf Ayila:

Yusuf Ayila’s run with the Eagles also ended after Samson Siasia’s sack from the team.
He has never been called up by Stephen Keshi in a competitive game.

Kalu Uche:

Kalu Uche’s chance to return to prominence with the Super Eagles was lost when he failed to make it to the Confederations Cup in Brazil.
He had been out of the team since Stephen Keshi’s 3rd game in charge but the gaffer says he extended a call up to him but he was injured at the time of the Confederations Cup.
Keshi has so far decided to stick with Nosa Igiebor or Nnamdi Oduamadi in some of his games.
In other games, Victor Moses has played behind the strikers.
Kalu has control, is confident on the ball and is also a goalscoring midfielder.

Haruna Lukman:

Though few Nigerians actually watch the league in Ukraine, most will swear that Haruna deserves to be in the Eagles, based on the last time they saw him play against Greece and Argentina in the World Cup in 2010. However, Haruna has grown between then and now.
He moved to Dynamo Kyiv from Monaco in 2011/12 season and has had 48 appearances and 8 goals since then.
He like Kalu Uche has control of the ball, is confident and can fit into the play maker role for the Eagles. He had also shown signs of tactical indiscipline, especially, his last time out with the U20s.

Osaze Odemwingie:

Since Odemwingie’s twitter rant against the coach, his team mates, the Nigeria Football Federation and the sporting press in Nigeria, he has not been called up to the Super Eagles.
Osaze was visibly angry at being dropped from the AFCON 2013 team and his case was not helped when he also lambasted his club, West Bromich Albion via his twitter handle.
However, since moving to Stoke City in January he has been back to playing regularly and scoring goals.
He has scored 5 goals from 9 games since his winter move to Stoke and his dashing runs, trickery and eye for goals are some of his assets which the Eagles will benefit from if he is recalled.

Ike Uche:

Ike Uche has not been called up to the team since the AFCON in 2013. Stephen Keshi claims tactical indiscipline and not playing to instructions but he has continued to blossom at Villareal where he plays, scoring 12 goals at the last count.
Uche was top scorer with the Eagles in Stephen Keshi’s first year in charge which qualified Nigeria for the AFCON but lost his starting shirt in the team to Emmanuel Emenike who then became the top scorer in 2013.

Uche can shoot, dribble and score too but it seems these attributes will be missing when the World Cup kicks off in June.

The Super Eagles missing XI has the luxury of substitute players too.

The likes of Carl Ikeme at Wolverhampton Wanderers who some Nigerians think should fight for a shirt as third choice keeper with the Eagles; Chinedu Udoji at Enyimba, in the Nigerian league is thought to be the best center back on the local scene; Obiora Nwankwo who had a few games when Keshi started, but is very similar to John Mikel Obi; Joel Obi who has been plagued with injuries but is now back playing. He could give Onazi a run for his money in the team; Sone Aluko is also at the top of his game at Hull City. Funny enough he is thrown to the wings at Eagles while at Hull he either players as support striker or trequartista; Odion Ighalo at Granada also makes the substitute bench on this “Super Eagles Missing XI”
Finally, there is Victor Anichebe who turned down the chance to play at the FIFA Confederations Cup. His style is similar to that of Emmanuel Emenike, the kind of striker Stephen Keshi wants.

This is the Super Eagles Missing XI


  1. Really nice post China,correct info with pictures too. This would just make Keshi's work tougher.. too many players to choose from. Hope He finds the right balance..

    Well done!

  2. Nedu, the thing about Keshi is that he has a mind of his own. I continue to insist that of the 23 players that will be at the World Cup, Keshi already knows 17. We will just wait and see. I see Osaze's form and I'm tempted to want him back to the team…

  3. Nice post China.this just me gave me a reprieve as to where our S/eagles plaYers now ply their trade abroad.personally feel apam/ chidi odiah and haruna should be recalled.

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