The Nigeria U-23 team on Sunday at the new Adokiye Ameisimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt battled to a 2-1 win over a Congolese side coached by Claude Leroy.
Though the team did not score enough goals to give a good advantage towards the second leg in August, the display was a very good one ad some of the players would have caught the eye of the new Super Eagles’ coach, Sunday Oliseh.
It is was a heartening display for about 70 minutes but the football the team played in the first half was the best that a Nigeria national side had played of recent.
And the good fact of the match was that just two of the players play abroad.
Another fact that was brought to the fore was the emergence of some real football gems that would have caught the eyes of new Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh as he starts pencilling down players for his first match – which will be a Nations Cup qualifier against Senegal in September.
The new Eagles coach was a defensive midfielder in his playing days and would have noticed especially the smoothness with which Azubuike Okechukwu conducted the U-23 orchestra last Sunday.
The diminutive defensive midfielder and captain was at the heart of every good move made by the U-23 team on Sunday. Composed and flexible in possession, he showed metronomic passing ability for all of 70 minutes.
This player has shown that he is destined for the top if he continues to develop. Congo coach, Claude Leroy, knew he was in trouble anytime the Warri Wolves midfielder got on the ball in his team’s half. Pass after pass was threaded through for his strikers who can be described as profligate, especially in the first half.
The Enyimba midfielder just needs polishing to become a great player for Nigeria. He demanded the ball at every opportunity and made things happen. With better technical and tactical coaching, especially his deliveries, this offensive midfielder will become the total package.
The last time Nigeria saw such swashbuckling football display was the U-17 team that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Dubai in 2013. Coach Siasia has to be given the credit for unearthing another set of players that could just make the Super Eagles better in future but the future may be right now for the three aforementioned players.
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