By Marshall Nwoke
Since making his debut for the Super Eagles of Nigeria in a friendly match against the Republic of Ireland on 29 May, 2009, Omatsone Aluko has been given a bit part role in the national team set up. Despite being born in England, Aluko showed no hesitation in committing his international future to the Super Eagles.
Notwithstanding his youth, Aluko has played for an array of clubs including Birmingham, Blackpool, Aberdeen, Rangers and Hull City. He is a player whose style of play is based on speed, good dribbling ability and, perhaps most importantly for the Super Eagles, his ability to convert free kicks. Since moving to England from Rangers and the Scottish Premier League, Aluko has lit up the Championship with his all-action performances. He has also notched up 8 league goals in 17 appearances for Hull City this season which is a laudable feat for a winger.
Since making his debut for Hull against Brighton and Hove Albion, he has not looked back – scoring his first goal for the club against Bolton Wanderers, and then another against Millwall soon after. He scored his third goal against Blackpool with a wonderful strike from 20 yards into the top corner of the goal, and also fired in a freekick from 25 yards into the bottom left corner against Wolves.
Aluko’s ability to take free kicks accurately could perhaps be his biggest asset to the national team, he scored several free kicks during his time with Rangers in Scotland and is currently doing the same with Hull. With the Super Eagles lacking a specialist free kick taker since the retirement of Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha, Aluko could fit into that role exceptionally well.
Sone Aluko made his Eagles' debut in 2009 but has been on the fringes since
With the likes of Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa being giving the chance to impress on the flanks of the Super Eagles, Aluko should also be listed for the Africa Cup of Nations to complete a formidable trio of wingers. With his pace, ability to cut in, and make runs inside the box, Nigeria possess a player that can force fouls from opposing defenders. Aluko is naturally left footed, and that would avoid the problem of having to play right footed wingers on the Super Eagles’ left flank.
Steve Bruce, his club manager, described him as dynamite waiting to explode, based on his continually improving performances week in week out for Hull. His form this season, which has put the Tigers in a good position to secure promotion to the Premiership, surpasses that of many of the current Super Eagles regulars.
Nigeria would benefit immensely from including Aluko because of ability to not only score goals but also to provide assists for his team mates; with five assists this season he has shown that there is more to his game than merely scoring - most recently his pinpoint cross from a corner against Birmingham City which was converted with ease by teammate James Chester. The goal was Hull’s third, clearly demonstrating their dominance.
After the game, Chester commended Aluko on his progress: "Sone's been a revelation, he's learned his trade in Scotland and I don't think too many people in England would have been aware of him.
"But he's matured a lot in Scotland and we're seeing the benefits of it. Sone's feet are so sharp he can embarrass you in the blink of an eye. It's nice to see an attacking player picking up the ball and running at defenders."
With his current form this season I believe Sone Aluko has proven himself enough to be picked for the upcoming Afcon in South Africa, despite being overlooked for most of the qualifiers.
- Marshall Nwoke's article was adjudged winner of the Goal.com Quiz Spectacular essay competition. It has earned him a signed Obafemi Martins Levante jersey.