With a glut of strikers at his disposal, Nigeria’s coach must decide who will best suit his plans for a successful outing at the 2013 Afcon.
The names of the strikers that Nigeria’s Super Eagles could use at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Cup easily roll off the tongue. From Emmanuel Emenike, Brown Ideye, Shola Ameobi (?), to Ikechukwu Uche; and not forgetting Bright Dike and Kalu Uche – the team is awash with some quality strikers. We also have Ahmed Musa, who has been playing as a top striker for CSKA Moscow this season.
But unfortunately, not all these names will be in South Africa in January so Coach Stephen Keshi has to decide who amongst the lot best suits his style and formation and not forgetting who will deliver the goals. The ideal situation will be that the chosen one goes on to score in every game that the Super Eagles will play in South Africa – from the three group stage matches till the final. That means he must score at least six (6) goals in South Africa.
So, who is this person?
First we have to take a look at the qualities that each striker will bring to the team.
Every coach in the world has looked at the template of the best national side in the last six years and want their team to play almost like that – it is like a fashion fad, it will be the norm until Spain loses its mojo – in football I mean!
So agreed that Keshi will stick to the 4-3-3 that he favoured during qualification, it would mean that the Super Eagles do not need a stagnant centre forward but a very nimble and mobile player that will always play on the shoulder of the opponent’s last defender-then the task of choosing the lead striker will have been made easier.
Ikechukwu Uche: The most nimble and technically gifted of all the strikers in the team and the most experienced amongst the lot. He has all the qualities to play the false number nine role. He can dribble, shoot with both feet and if he is starved of the ball in the last third can join the fray in midfield. He has been very potent for the Super Eagles-whether he starts or comes off the bench.
Emmanuel Emenike: Emenike possesses the strength to hold on to ball with his weighty frame and he is quite nimble though he does not like moving out of the box too much as most of his goals come at the end of moves by his team mates using the matches in the Champions League and Super Eagles matches as a guide.
Brown Ideye: Ideye has been in good goal scoring form this season because of his movement from outside the box and good combination play with his team’s play maker. He is good with his head and can shoot really well with both feet. Though he sometimes tries to do too much when playing for Nigeria, he is young and still improving his all round game.
Bright Dike: An upstart that can only be assessed with the minutes he played against Venezuela last month. He is a powerfully built player with speed and aggression who reminds one of Daniel Amokachi, which means he will not score a lot of goals.
Shola Ameobi: We are still not sure if he will be available for the Nations Cup but he is strong and big and has nimble foot work for such a big man. He has a lot of experience playing in the English Premier League though he is a neophyte with the national team as he played for the first time last month against Venezuela. He is a good one to have on the bench and can join the fray when things are not going to plan to disrupt the balance of the central defenders of the opponents.
Kalu Uche: Just left for Turkey from Enyimba but technically a good striker, who can hold up the ball and loves to run the channels behind the defensive formation of the opponents. He has been scoring regularly in the second division in Turkey but if chosen could play a big part in the Super Eagles.
Ahmed Musa: The CSKA Moscow player is included in this list because he has been playing as a striker for his team in the Russia Premier League and has scored a lot of goals in the process. He is fast and can cause a lot of havoc running off the ball but still lacks the instincts of a world class striker.
So after listing all the strengths of these strikers, I would say that Emenike leads the queue with his poacher’s instincts as he showed so brilliantly against Liberia, though the team from Liberia cannot be classified as world class opponents.
Also, Ideye and Ik Uche present ideal foils for the rampaging two that will be behind the main striker but I would also love to see Musa play the role because almost all the teams in the Nations Cup will be prepared for Emenike, Ideye and Ikechukwu Uche and Ahmed’s presence in the central striking will definitely put the cat amongst the pigeons.