Is Joel Obi up to his wild card chance?


Before Nigeria's provisional World Cup squad was announced no one expected Joel Obi to make the cut. Here's Wunmi Thomas on Keshi's wild card.

Seven appearances in yet another injury plagued season put him on everyone's if only list.

In 2011 he was on the definitely list as an ever present with  not just 11 appearances for the Super Eagles, but all of them starts. Since then nothing for two years and more as he's hardly strung two appearances together.

Yet here he in on the cusp of a World Cup. His elevation to the final 30 says a lot about not just his ability but also the paucity of Stephen Keshi's midfield options. 

Trying to inject some creativity into the midfield has been one of the bugbears of the Keshi regime. Remember before the African Cup of Nations he took a look at Rabiu Ibrahim, a player who had barely featured for Celtic.

Rabiu didn't make the cut, but Obi is a different kettle of fish.

Joel Obi, when on song, has energy, dynamism, as well as the creative vision, the passing ability and the offensive nous to act as the most-advanced component of a potential three man midfield. His talents would be a perfect complement to the established pairing of Ogyeni Onazi and Mikel.

There is obviously something about Obi that Keshi likes.  Academica's John Ogu only made eight appearances this season which cost him his place in the squad, but then again he doesn't have Obi's virtues.

The big question is whether Obi can play enough in the tight schedule before the World Cup and then manage a game every four days in Brazil. It's asking a lot from a body with such an injury record.

It may well yet be that Ramon Azeez is the better option. Azeez has been playing regularly and making a  convincing case to join Mikel and Onazi in the heart of that midfield.

The key will be Obi's body and how it holds up.


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