The Worldcup finished weeks ago but we would continue to talk about it till we get to Russia in 2018. Nigeria qualified from their group after drawing their first game with Iran, defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0 before losing to Silver medalists Argentina in the last group game. The Super Eagles would finally bow out of the competition after losing 2-0 to France in the second round.
These are my ratings of the Nigerian players present in Brazil.
Vincent Enyeama: Most probably Nigeria’s best performer in Brazil. The French-based goalie was at his best in the tournament making saves upon saves. He may have let his guards down against Argentina for Messi’s 2nd free kick and against France but his heroics against Bosnia and Herzegovina will remain in our memories for long. Dzeko thought he had grabbed a point for his country but Enyeama saved Nigeria’s blushes. Nigeria will begin their search for new goalies as Enyeama is already above 32. 7/10
Godfrey Obaobuna: Obaobuna was solid against Iran but he could not further his partnership with Emeruo as he got injured in the 2nd game against Bosnia. A strong lad that would grow stronger. He will be in the Eagles for long. 6/10
Kenneth Emeruo: How Emeruo usurped Yobo for the starting berth in the AFCON 2013 is still one of the best things that happened to Nigeria. The young Chelsea was timely in tackling and was always found doing the dirty jobs. He was though no were near to help keep Nigeria from loosing to France. He will need more games to gather more experience. A sure berth for the Super Eagles. A rock. 7/10
Joseph Yobo: The veteran defender kept his cool when called upon after Obaobuna’s injury. Recalled for the 1st time to the team after winning the AFCON 2013 in South Africa, Yobo reached the Century mark in the green colours of Nigeria. He did his job above par but was let down by his parting gift, the own goal against France. Now he can retire in peace. 5/10
Efe Ambrose: The Right back manned his flank well in Brazil proving all and sundry wrong. He caused problems at random upfront and would have gotten a goal for himself. 6/10
Juwon Oshaniwa: If there was one person that exceeded expectations for Nigeria in Brazil, that has to be Oshaniwa. The injury to Elderson Echiejile meant he was the only left back in the team. He seized the opportunity and was a difficult player to beat. Juwon may lack good attacking instincts but Echiejile would have to fight hard to get his shirt back. Keshi got this right. 6/10
Mikel Obi: A lot was expected from Mikel but he just failed to deliver in his 1st world cup. The worst performer in the super Eagles with the SI unit for slowness. Mikel was sloppy in defending, killed all counter-attacking move and was even lazy to track a ball he has lost. What has happened to Nigeria’s Mikel. This was not the Mikel we saw standing head to head with Messi in the WYC. It high time the coaches look above Mikel and let Nigeria move on. He has to up his game else he is finished. 3/10
Ogenyi Onazi: Mikel’s partner in the midfield was more lively, a polar opposite. Onazi drove the team, run his heart out and did most of Mikel’s job. He did tried some shots at goal, although few were aimless but his importance in the team was visibly when he was stretched out against France. 6/10
Ramon Azeez: Azeez was average in Brazil but lacked the confidence of the coach. Eyebrows were raised when he was selected but he will need to build his confidence and command his game if he is to excel in the Super Eagles. 5/10
Babatunde Micheal: Surprise inclusion to Brazil, Babatunde stole the heart of the fans against Argentina and Bosnia. The Ukraine-based player benched Victor Moses and his name was on everyone’s lips. It was disappointing that he had to watch the France game from the bench after he broke his wrist against Argentina, no thanks to Onazi’s shot. 7/10
Gabriel Reuben: Only Keshi can tell the reason for his inclusion. He came in for injured Onazi against France but could not hold up the midfield like the Lazio man. 3/10
Micheal Uchebo: Was he selected for his deflected goal against Scotland? or did we read too much meaning to the friendly games. Uchebo featured just once and seemed confused on the pitch. He didnt put any wrong foot but he looked overwhelmed at playing in a Worldcup. Well, he has it in his CV now but he will be remembered for his long legs and ganja hair. 4/10
Victor Moses: The Chelsea forward started well against Iran but found it difficult breaking into the starting team because of Micheal Babatunde. When he replaced Babatunde, he was just below par. He will be remembered for his zero cross, dribble, shot against Iran and his goal line clearance against France. 5/10
Ahmed Musa: blessed with pace, Musa was one of Nigeria’s top performers in Brazil. His brace (Nigeria’s first ever brace in the world cup) was enough to sing his names on the street of Kano. With experience he will be explosive. 7/10
Osaze Odemwingwe: Osaze returned to the Eagles and justified his return after scoring Nigeria’s only goal against Bosnia. A win we have lacked wince 1998. The Stoke forward was a thorn in the flesh and won FIFA’s man of the match award. he even tracked back to defend when called upon. The first stoke city player to score a world cup goal. 7/10
Emmanuel Emenike: The bulky striker was a thorn to the flesh but would be disappointed not to register his name in Brazil. his presence in attack was important but he lacked the support to finish off his opponent. He was most time isolated but did manage a couple of assists. 6/10
Shola Ameobi: Two time sub and that is it. little or no impact. He has “Featured in the world cup” attached to his CV. But he is heading to the end of his career and it was just a delight for him. 4/10
Uche Nwofor: Late substitutes against Bosnia and France but had little or no time to even touch the ball. 4/10
Ejike Uzoenyi: The replacement for injured Echiejile came in as a sub against Iran but the stage was too big for him. 3/10
Austin Ejide, Chigozie Agbim, Azubuike Egwuekwe, and Kunle Odunlami: Did not play. They supported from the bench.
Stephen Keshi and Coaching Crew: if only they were more dynamic in approaching all of their games, we may have progressed beyond France. One game plan man. Shikena. Games change and coaches should change their team to adapt to the changes. Will he continue as the coach? only NFF knows.