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2013 was the year Emmanuel Emenike rose to prominence as one of the continent’s deadliest strikers. He led the goal scorers’ chart at the Africa Cup of Nations, winning the tournament golden boot and getting listed in the team of the tournament. Whenever the national team needed goals, Emenike was available to provide it but the squad suffered in his absence due to injury at the Confederations Cup in Brazil.
However, he came back strong in the World Cup qualifying matches against Malawi and Ethiopia where he scored important goals that helped the Super Eagles qualify for Brazil 2014.
At club level, Emenike returned to Turkey from Spartak Moscow during the summer. He has scored five goals in 12 appearances thus far. Such is his high rating that the 26-year-old is already being compared with Nigeria legend Rashidi Yekini.
It has been a big year for Vincent Enyeama who led from the back as Nigeria won her third Africa Cup of Nations title in February. Stand-in captain in the absence of Joseph Yobo, the Lille man has shown leadership for Stephen Keshi’s young squad on and off the pitch.
His vision and agility severally helped the Super Eagles in key moments. Even though he’s faced some criticism like in the game against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa where he picked the ball behind the line, Enyeama has more than made up for his frailties with key saves that have taken the Super Eagles to Brazil.
At Lille, Enyeama is the proverbial rejected stone that has become the cornerstone. After returning from a loan spell in Israel, the 31-year-old has become a key part of the squad, helping them to maintain a push for a Champions League place as well as going 945 minutes, and counting, without conceding a goal.
|JOHN OBI MIKEL
Winner of the maiden Goal Nigeria Player of the Year award in 2012, John Obi Mikel has seen his stock grow in the colours of the national team over the course of the year. The most experienced outfield player in the Super Eagles since the Stephen Keshi revolution began, Mikel has grown into a comfortable leadership role on the field and has started to look like he would fulfil the immense potential buried at Chelsea.
Arguably Nigeria’s best player at the Africa Cup of Nations, the 26-year-old was named man of the match twice and made the team of the tournament.
At club level, he played a bit part in Chelsea’s run to Europa League victory a year after they won the Champions League. Seven years after joining the London club, Mikel scored his first goal in the Premier League for the Blues, three months after scoring a beautiful goal for Nigeria against Uruguay at the Confederations Cup.
An unforgettable year in the career of Victor Moses, the lad was rewarded for pitching his tent with Nigeria by winning the Africa Cup of Nations and returning to Chelsea a continental champion after posting impressive performances in South Africa.
His brace helped to see off Ethiopia and his pace troubled Mali in the semi final. It was just reward that he was included in the team of the tournament by CAF. He will be a key part of the Nigeria squad that will attempt to trouble the big teams in Brazil next year.
At club level, Moses has not had it easy as he fell out of the squad at Chelsea under new manager Jose Mourinho and has gone on loan to Liverpool. His performances in the first half of the year, however, saw the Blues win the Europa League.
Mr Consistency, Godfrey Oboabona played every match for the Super Eagles in 2013 and was rated as the best Nigerian player at the Confederations Cup. The former Sunshine Stars captain has been the revelation of the national team so far where he has held his own in defence in the absence of big names like Joseph Yobo, Dele Adeleye and Taye Taiwo.
Oboabona brought such calm to the back line alongside Kenneth Omeruo en route to Africa Cup of Nations victory. He was also key to the country securing their maiden African Nations Championship (CHAN) ticket as well as a fifth World Cup place. Who can forget his magnificent clearance in Addis Ababa or the way he kept Didier Drogba quiet in Rustenburg?
At club level, Oboabona finally made the transfer to Europe in the summer albeit to Caykur Rizespor, a modest club in the Turkish top flight. Another brilliant performance in Brazil next summer could see the 22-year-old move on to greater things. He’s got the potential.