AFCON: Chelsea’s Super Eagles

Out of the blue, the Super Eagles of Nigeria, comprising of three Chelsea players, advanced into the finals of the African Cup of Nations in South Africa in the most fashionable manner, dispatching Mali 4-1 in the semi-final.

Given the lukewarm approach they started the games with, nobody gave them a chance of progressing beyond the quarter-final but an imposing display from the team ensured their passage into the semis to face Ivorian’s.

Focusing on the 3 Chelsea players in the squad, here is a review of their performances and an overall rating thus far in the competition;

Kenneth Omeruo [8]

In a defensive line-up made up of seasoned veteran, Joseph Yobo and an enterprising player in Efe Ambrose, Omeruo was expectedly benched for the first game but after a defensive blunder led to a late equalizer from the Burkinabes, the young Ado Dan Haag loanee was introduced into the side replacing the captain, Yobo in the centre back, pairing up with home-based player Godfrey Obaobona. He duly vindicated the coach’s trust, as the team looked more assured and composed under their guard. Not the tallest of defenders, Omeruo, but that didn’t impair his distinctive instinct of tracking back timely, holding up well under pressure and clearing away when absolutely necessary, things his predecessor has discernibly lost.

John Mikel Obi [7]

Mikel would be famously remembered for his penalty miss against Zambia in a match that ended 1-1. Barring that miss, Mikel has been outstanding for the side. He stands as the hub of the team, single-handedly dictates the tempo of play and ensuring that the composition and shape is maintained. He has also managed to get 3 assists notwithstanding his defensive obligation he’s had to carry out.

Victor Moses [9]

Easily the most sensational player of the trio. Moses had been relatively unproven in the Nigerian squad, so fans were yearning to see a ‘messiah’ prove his worth as he’s often done for his club. The first two games were obviously very run-of-the-mill. The third match though was all about Moses. Nigeria had to beat Ethopia to secure their passage into the 2nd round and just in the same vein the Eagles started the competition, it appeared the game would end in a draw.

In the 71st minute, however, Moses raced into the box, dribbled past a hapless Ethopian who, in due course, felled him and thus, a penalty surfaced and he coolly slotted in. He soon repeated the trick and this time, the keeper was the unfortunate culprit. Moses again put the ball on the spot and scored. Never to stop there, he took the centre stage in the semis, dribbling a Malian defender silly before squaring up for the first goal and also instigated the second in their 4-1 triumph.

Nigeria have taken their place in the final on Sunday night alongside Burkino Faso, and we must now hope that they put in another sterling performance, and bring back their medals to the Bridge next week.

By Salako Aramide


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