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As Tammy Abraham hits 20, Nigeria must make a move

18:11 SAST 2017/02/13
Tammy Abraham scores for Bristol City
The Super Eagles must do all they can to recruit the controversial Chelsea wonderkid

Tammy Abraham’s goalscoring in the Championship shows no signs of slowing down this season. The Chelsea loanee surpassed the 20-goal mark for the season in Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Derby County on Saturday to take his tally up to 21 for the season for Bristol City.

It’s a remarkable feat for the teenager, and Gernot Rohr cannot miss any opportunity to recruit the young forward to the Nigeria setup.

The German coach has overseen a renaissance of sorts during his brief stint with the Super Eagles, and while there is more positivity now about the national side than in many years, they still aren’t the finished article.

There are question marks over several defensive positions, while the squad arguably lacks a striker to make the most of the creativity of players such as Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi and Moses Simon.

Ideye Brown has proved effective, although perhaps isn’t a natural fit, while it remains to be seen if Odion Ighalo can ever rediscover his previous form after swapping Watford for China.

Abraham, who offers pace, incisive movement and a cool eye for goal, boasts both the quality to lead the line for the Eagles and—at 19—the profile to fit seamlessly into this young and exciting Nigeria selection.

While he has thrived as a sole forward for much of the season, against Derby, Abraham blossomed when played in tandem with new signing Matty Taylor.

While City—who are still battling relegation from the Championship—were open at the back, the forwards’ immediate understanding and excellent movement bodes well for the rest of the campaign, and demonstrated how Abraham can fare when played with a fellow forward.

Like this new Nigeria squad, however, Abraham isn’t the finished article either; there’s work to be done both on the pitch and off it.

Only days before netting twice against the Rams at Pride Park, Abraham had made headlines for all the wrong reasons after crashing his car in Bristol. Police investigating the incident learned that the teenager was driving without either a licence or insurance.

It’s the kind of black mark that risks overshadowing the attacker’s fine campaign, while it’s a worrying indicator of the kind of recklessness that can so easily derail a promising career.

"I'm delighted for him to get 20 goals this early in the season,” City coach Lee Johnson told reporters after the Derby draw, while refusing to acknowledge the player’s misdemeanour. “Hopefully, that will continue."

As the landmarks fall for England U21 international Abraham, the secret—both the good and the bad—is out of the bag. While there is optimism around the national side, Nigeria would be wise to do their best to recruit this talented young forward to join the revolution.

It may be a long shot, but despite his troubles, Abraham is already demonstrating that he’s set to be an exceptional talent.