Even though it was a disastrous year on the international scene for Nigeria (managing a bronze medal finish at the African Nations Cup Angola 2010 and a first round exit at the World Cup in South Africa), there were bright spots for a few players who showed in their performances at club level that Nigeria need to get their administration right in order to achieve the best from the Super Eagles. Here is a list of ten players that flew high the green and white colors of Nigeria in 2010.
Vincent Enyeama (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel)
Arguably Nigeria’s best player in 2010, Vincent Enyeama showed that he has matured into a world class shot stopper. After an impressive performance at the AFCON where he scored the winning penalty against Zambia in the quarter-final, Enyeama went on to the world stage to deny Lionel Messi from scoring against him at the World Cup in South Africa.
Even though Nigeria crashed out in the first round after losing two matches and drawing one, Enyeama’s performances caught the eye and earned him two man-of-the-match gongs. His form has also continued with his Israeli club which he led into the league phase of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history after they won the Israeli Premier League. He scored his trademark penalty kick in the competition before Hapoel crashed out.
John Obi Mikel (Chelsea, England)
As controversial as ever, John Obi Mikel missed out on the World Cup through injury after ensuring that the Super Eagles qualified with his superb work rate in that all important final qualification game against Kenya.
Mikel was the heart of the team’s midfield in their run to another bronze medal finish at the AFCON in January and he also played a huge part in Chelsea’s double winning season before injury blighted his summer hopes. He has since returned to club action where he is the heart of the Chelsea midfield.
Osaze Odemwingie (West Brom, England)
Perhaps the most anticipated player on the World Cup stage who failed to shine when it mattered most, Osaze Odemwingie had a good AFCON where he scored three goals. The change in Nigeria’s coaching position before the World Cup ensured that he lost his starting place in the team which led to his frustrated outburst against Lars Lagerback for his tactics which did not recognize the efforts of important players in the team.
His move to West Bromwich Albion from Lokomotiv has brought his quality to the limelight after many years of playing in France and Russia. He was crowned the English Premier League player of the month of September, a really important feather to his cap after he led the destruction of Arsenal at the Emirates.
Kalu Uche (Almeria, Spain)
Kalu Uche was perhaps Nigeria's best outfield player at the World Cup in South Africa where he scored two goals to take his personal international tally to four. His set pieces were effective in handing Nigeria good opportunities to nick a win, but the Eagles contrived to waste the chances that eventually saw them crash out in the first round.
Injury blighted his post- summer, but he marked his return to Almeria with a brace in a 2-0 defeat of Deportivo for the team’s first victory this season.
Ahmed Musa (VVV Venlo, Holland)
Eighteen-year-old Ahmed Musa rose from obscurity in 2010 to cement his place in the history books after breaking the 20-year-old goal scoring record in the Nigerian Premier League with Kano Pillars. Musa’s keen eye for goal and his speed left many defenders helpless as he set the NPL alight week after week with his splendid goals.
He crowned it with a call up into the Super Eagles for the World Cup, but was dropped from the final squad. Musa finally made his full debut for the Eagles in an AFCON qualifier after a successful campaign with the Team B that won the West African Football Union Cup in Abeokuta. He made a summer move to modest side Venlo in the Dutch league.
Dickson Etuhu (Fulham, England)
Dickson Etuhu had an interesting run in 2010 helping his club Fulham achieve an unprecedented final finish in the Europa League. He also played an integral part in Nigeria’s third place finish at the AFCON, as well as in the World Cup where he took charge of the midfield in the absence through injury of John Obi Mikel. The defensive midfielder was one of the Super Eagles’ better performers throughout the year 2010.
Taye Taiwo (Marseille, France)
The year 2010 was very rewarding for Taye Taiwo as his club Marseille went on to claim their first league title since 1993. He played very important roles scoring against perennial champions Lyon in April as well as winning the Coupe de la Ligue.
Taiwo was less than impressive at the AFCON, where he lost his place to Yusuf Mohammed but then got it back under Lars Lagerback in South Africa. He however missed out on the World Cup after sustaining an injury in the first game against Argentina where he was in top form.
Emmanuel Emenike (Karabukspor, Turkey)
Emmanuel Emenike became the most anticipated Nigerian striker in 2010 when he led Turkish first division side Karabukspor into the Super Lig after scoring 16 goals and 13 assists which earned him the award of the best foreign player in the First League. This made Emenike a hot commodity for Turkey’s national team coach Guus Hiddink who showed interest in having the 23 year-old take up Turkish nationality.
However, Nigeria coach Samson Siasia has secured the promise of Emenike to feature for the Super Eagles in 2011. It is an anticipated debut as the Eagles are in great need of a top goal poacher at the moment with the team firing blanks recently.
Haruna Lukman (AS Monaco, France)
Haruna Lukman put his past troubles to rest to become a critical part of Nigeria’s senior team in 2010. His dazzling midfield displays brought much needed youthful energy to a Super Eagles team that had lost much flair in recent times.
He scored his first senior goal against Colombia in a friendly before the World Cup and started against Argentina in the summer where he was a constant threat to opposition midfielders. Lukman was also a part of the Monaco team that played in the final of the Coupe de France where they lost 1-0 to PSG.
Michael Eneramo (Esperance, Tunisia)
After being snubbed from the Super Eagles for both the AFCON and World Cup, Michael Eneramo faced his club duties with vigor and helped Esperance to the final of the CAF Champions League.
His infamous handball helped the team past Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the semi-final but they lost to TP Mazembe in the final. Eneramo scored on his return to the Eagles in a 2-0 victory over Madagascar in an AFCON qualifier in Abuja, but fired blanks in that all important 1-0 loss to Guinea in October.For the latest news and updates from Goal.com, follow our Twitter account and join Goal.com USA's Facebook fan page!