Despite the progress of the progress of the B team of the senior national team of Nigeria to the quarter-finals of the ongoing African Nations Championship in Morocco, some players are yet to live up to expectations.
So far Nigeria have played three games, and two wins and a draw enabled them finished top of their group ahead of Libya, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea. Namibia are up next for the CHAN Eagles in Saturday quarter final game.
Owngoalnigeria.com Osas Mahawi picks out the players who have so far failed to light up despite coming into the tournament as part of the players to look out for in the team.
Ifeanyi Ifeanyi :
The former Nigeria youth international is rumoured to be playing with an injury, which has so far affected his performance according to unconfirmed reports.
That said his performance has been anything but brilliant. Not even close to the level which made him the trojan of the Nigerian U20 team that lifted the African Youth Championship in 2015.
The Akwa United midfielder appears lost in the middle, slow in possession, indecisive in tackles and above all a big minus for the team in the three group games they have played so far.
The Kano Pillars legend started the first two games for Nigeria, and while he has been very decent when on the ball, his efforts without the ball has so far proved to be a problem for the team when they need to defend.
At 37 age appears to have caught up with him as he fades as the game progresses. However he didn’t do badly when he was introduced in their third and final group game with a goal and assist to his name.
Tony Okpotu :
Finished as top scorer in the recently concluded Nigeria Professional Football League. but the Lobi Stars forward is yet to bring his A game to the party in the three games Nigeria have played so far.
Even the way he scored his only goal of the tournament so far isn’t quite convincing, judging by how he headed home the cross from Osas Okoro in an unconventional manner.
Still remains the favourite of coach Salisu Yusuf in attack, much is however due to the lack of options in attack available to the coach as Ibrahim Mustapha didn’t quite convinced on the two occasions he has replaced Okpotu.
Emeka Atuloma :
Started the tournament on a high with a very solid showing against Rwanda but he failed to maintain same showing in their other group games especially in the game against Libya.
Appears to be battling stage freight as he has shown some abilities to prove the talent that earned him a spot in the team. He needs to command game and also improve on his usage of the ball especially going forward.
Gabriel Okechukwu :
Few years ago the 22 year old forward caused a stir in Nigeria, when he made the bench of the senior national team of Nigeria in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers tie against Chad in Kaduna as a non-league player.
Since then he has had spells in Ukraine with less success and even at Akwa United last season, his inconsistency saw him move from the sublime to the ridiculous during games.
The fact that he isn’t getting games, with only 15 minutes of action so fa. His inclusion in the list of flops so far is based on how high he was rated before the start of the tournament.