Monday, November 29, 2021
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Where have Super Eagles’ great central midfielders gone?

There used to be a common theory, amongst Super Eagles’ football fans, that ‘We have what it takes have to win the Africa Cup of Nations or World Cup.’ This rather bold and flippant claim was based on the notion that it has always been the attacking midfield that has been the major problem for Nigeria.

In my eyes it is the central midfield births that really lack quality, and there seems to be no obvious solution on the horizon.

In the past Nigeria could boast about good central midfielders such as Muda Lawal, Sunday Oliseh and Mutiu Adepoju. Some of you by now may be showing signs of reddening in the face, about to erupt into an impassioned cry of, ‘what about John Obi Mikel?

Sunday Oliseh

My response is simple, ‘what about him?’ I would be mentally disturbed if I was to deny his undoubted class. As Premiership footballer he was no doubt absolute legend, and at his peak would have walked into any top club. Some of which would no doubt still be keen to gain his services as I write.

Joel Obi is slow and past his best, Ogenyi Onazi is injury prone and his international career looks like over. Worse still is the realization that nobody of true quality is coming through either. Your face may be reddening again as you shout out, ‘Kingsley Michael and Frank Onyeka.’ Yes, Brentford’s Onyeka is an excellent prospect, that I have full confidence he will be categorized as a good player, and Michael looks promising, if inexperienced, too. But they are both better suited to play in the number 6, rather than the more traditional central midfield role that I am talking about.

John Mikel Obi (Getty Images)
John Mikel Obi (Getty Images)

So who are the future candidates? The obvious thoughts are Tom Dele-Bashiru, Ovie Ejaria, Samson Tijani, Kelechi Nwakali and Joe Aribo. To date Nwakali has shown no consistency, makes mistakes and is likely to waste away years of his talent competing for a regular starting place. Tijani is quite simply terrible, Aribo is a quality player, but his problem is that nobody has decided what his best position is.

At times against Central African Republic were passed off the pitch. I have sickly concerns about Nigeria’s central midfield, now and in the future. The outstanding Nigerian midfielder in Europe at the moment, and still at a youthful age, is Akinkunmi Amoo. Maybe in four years time Nigeria fans will have a new common theory, ‘if Amoo was playing for Super Eagles we would have won the AFCON or World Cup?’

Are there any hidden gems waiting to break through into Nigeria’s midfield?

Ademetan Abayomi has always dreamt of being a sports journalist. His journey began 11 years ago when he created my first sports news page on Facebook, called “Futball Galore” and from there on his passion for sports journalism grew stronger. Now, he is a Sports News Reporter and Feature Writer where he strives to add value and learn as much as he can.

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

Olafare Michael Oluwabukola
A Nationa Diploma holder in Computer Science at LENS POLYTECHNIC Offa, a full-time blogger, beatmaker, modern graphics designer, talent manager, and a vocalist


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