Alampasu integral to Nigeria's soaring new Eagles

The 20‑year‑old Dele Alampasu didn't get the nod to go in goal for Nigeria's four nil World Cup qualifying romp over Cameroon but he is likely to be the future as Gernot Rohr continues to blend exciting youth with experience in the Super Eagles.


Picking Alampasu against Cameroon would have been audacious.

Alampasu has been much admired since excelling in Nigeria’s conquest of the under-17 World Cup in 2013 but he has yet to make a senior appearance and, indeed, has not made a start this season for his club, Feirense in Portugal. Throwing him in against Cameroon would have been a spectacular show of faith. Or of scepticism in the other option. 

Alampasu may not have been picked this time, but Nigeria will field various other representatives of an exciting generation of Nigerian players. Already significant impacts have been made by Leicester’s pair of 20-year-olds, Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho, with the former one of the few players to come out of the South Africa defeat with credit.

The two outstanding players in the wins over Cameroon and before that Algeria were Victor Moses, a senior player at 26, and Mikel John Obi, still influential no matter that he is now a China-based 30-year-old. That was made clear against South Africa when, without Mikel, there was a hesitancy about the midfield and then, after they fell behind, a headlessness as they pursued an equaliser with ruinous abandon. Wilfred Ndidi looks certain to prove a fine replacement, probably even an upgrade, for Mikel in the long run, and for now he shines alongside the veteran skipper.

Two others  from the next generation are the forward Moses Simon, a 22-year-old who plays for Gent, and Etebo Oghenekaro, 21-year-old midfielder who is a club-mate of Alampasu at Feirense (where he is a regular starter) and had shone against Algeria. Rohr can also call on Ola Aina, the 20-year-old right-back who is on loan to Hull City from Chelsea and is the latest overseas-born player to declare for Nigeria, following other bright prospects such as Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi (21) and Bursaspor’s Netherlands-born centre-back William Ekong (23).

The future looks bright again for Nigeria.


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