Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor
With just two months to the African Nations Championship for players based in their country's local leagues, five players from the title winninig U-17 team could help the Super Eagles achieve the feat and make Nigeria double champions.
The home-based national team will be in South Africa next year – precisely in January hoping to add the CHAN title to the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) title won in February.
Looking at their last outing against Jordan, coach Stephen Keshi knows that the team needs fortifying from defence to attack especially when they were almost toothless in the last third.
Goal looks at the victorious Golden Eaglets team to pick five that could help Nigeria do the double in South Africa.
Tournament MVP | Kelechi Iheanacho looks like a big talent
"Of course I will like to take a closer look at them"
Stephen Keshi talking about some of the Golden Eaglets players
As part of the drive to revamp the Super Eagles and make more players available for the senior national team, the coach, Stephen Keshi should avail himself of the opportunity of selecting some of the players that represented and won the recently concluded Fifa U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
"I watched them during their tournament and I did mention that I liked a few of the players,” Keshi told SuperSport.
“Of course I will like to take a closer look at them. So the plan is to invite them to the training programme for next year's CHAN and monitor them.”
That said, one name that quickly springs to mind is Kelechi Iheanacho, who proved in the UAE that he had both the efficiency to score goals but also the vision to set up goals as his seven assists in six matches showed. Though languid in nature, his touch and vision are components of a very mature player. The ability to create goals from deep midfield is also an attribute that is not common in the modern game apart from players like Mesut Ozil and the retired Zinedine Zidane.
Another that could be given a chance to strut his stuff is the captain of the team, Musa Mohammed. As a defender cum midfielder, Mohammed was exemplary in his conduct and performance. His continuous lung-bursting runs down the right flank will long be remembered. He also has vision as he was the one that got Dele Alampasu’s ball straight to Iheanacho in the move that led to the Eaglets’ first goal against Mexico.
The third player I would suggest is the goalkeeper, Dele Alampasu. Apart from the poor showing against Sweden in the group stage, he was impressive throughout. Truth be told almost all the team failed to perform against Sweden, but when a goalkeeper makes a mistake it is more obvious.
Alampasu already has all the attributes of a good goalkeeper and could follow in the footsteps of Thibaut Courtois, who at 20 years is already a full international for Belgium.
Another player that should be nurtured for the big stage is Musa Yahaya, who was a delight to watch and scored some goals in the UAE. The temperament of a big game player is already instilled and playing for the national team at the moment would only increase his abilities.
Giant defender Aliyu Abubakar is the last that will be recommended for the Super Eagles. Very intelligent and quick for such a tall defender, he was always at the right place at the right time for the Eaglets. It can be argued that he was the main reason that the Eaglets conceded only one goal in the second stage of the championship.All these players are young but their quick integration into a higher level of football will enhance their abilities as foreign clubs swoop on them.