The New Yekinis: What happened to Rashidi's Super Eagles successors?

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The New Yekinis HP
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Since the retirement of Nigeria's record goalscorer in 1998, the country has consistently failed to produce a striker to challenge his record

  1. ​The wait goes on.
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    ​The wait goes on.

    Rashidi Yekini scored a remarkable 37 goals in 58 appearances for Nigeria, having made his national team debut in 1984 at the age of 20.

    Within a decade, he had netted 30 international goals, but since his departure Nigeria has failed to produce a 25-goal striker, despite numerous talents being dubbed as the 'New Yekini'.

    In this feature, Goal reviews some of the forwards who tried and failed to break the Eagles' scoring record.

  2. ​Benedict Akwuegbu
    TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images

    ​Benedict Akwuegbu

    Caps: 30, Goals: 8, Debut: vs Tunisia, Jan 2000

    Nicknamed the 'Austrian Bomber' following his exploits at Grazer AK of Austria, he made his national team debut, age 25, at the 2000 Cup of Nations.

    Despite his flourishing club career, Akwuegbu struggled to hold down a permanent spot in the national side during a five-year career that included a place in the 2002 Fifa World Cup squad.

    He averaged 0.27 goals per game.

  3. ​Julius Aghahowa
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    ​Julius Aghahowa

    Caps: 32, Goals: 14, Debut: vs Morocco, Jan 2000

    Aghahowa broke onto the international scene at 17 and looked totally unstoppable when in full flight, bailing out the Eagles regularly with his crucial strikes, netting an impressive six goals in his first two Afcons, and Nigeria's solitary goal at the 2002 World Cup.

    He looked like the real deal, but injuries denied Nigerians the opportunity to see more of those cartwheel goal celebrations.

    He last played for Nigeria against Ghana in 2007, and averaged 0.44 goals per game.

  4. ​Yakubu Ayegbeni
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    ​Yakubu Ayegbeni

    Caps: 57, Goals: 21,  Debut: vs Eritrea, April 2000

    The Yak made his debut at 17 and is Nigeria's third all-time highest goalscorer, although many fans remember him best for that incredible miss against South Korea in the 2010 World Cup.

    Incredibly, Yakubu is the only Nigerian player to hit the 20-goal mark for the national team since Yekini achieved that feat in April, 1993.

    He averaged 0.37 goals per game.

  5. ​Victor Agali
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    ​Victor Agali

    Caps: 12, Goals: 5, Debut: vs Zambia, Jan 2001

    Close in physical appearance to the departed Yekini, Agali certainly looked the part, scoring on his debut against Zambia.

    He was excellent in the air and bagged five goals in his first year with Nigeria, but that was the end of his goalscoring streak.

    Agali failed to get going at the 2002 Afcon, missed out on the World Cup, and his international career ended in disappointment in 2004, as he was sent home from the Afcon in Tunisia.

    He averaged 0.42 goals per game.

  6. ​Bartholomew Ogbeche
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    ​Bartholomew Ogbeche

    Caps: 11, Goals: 3, Debut: vs Paraguay, March 2002

    Ogbeche made his debut at 17, on the eve of the World Cup, and looked like the next big thing, having recently been promoted to the first team at Paris Saint-Germain.

    However, he never truly got going, despite a resurgence in 2004.

    He probably never had a successful international career due to early exposure and the weight of expectation, which weighed him down, although he did continue to shine in the Eredivisie despite being overlooked for the national side.

    He averaged 0.27 goals per game.

  7. ​Obafemi Martins
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    ​Obafemi Martins

    Caps: 41, Goals: 18, Debut: vs Rep. Ireland, May 2004

    Fast, fearless, skilful, strong and prolific, Oba looked like the new Nigerian goal king when he burst onto the scene. 

    His influence began to dwindle by 2007, as he rarely made appearances due to injuries, club commitments, and fallouts with coaches.

    His potential wasn't properly managed, and Nigeria lost a top quality forward.

    Averaged 0.44 goals per game.

  8. ​Ikechukwu Uche
    PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

    ​Ikechukwu Uche

    Caps: 46, Goals: 19, Debut: vs Macedonia, Aug 2007

    Another genuine talent that could have buried Yekini's record.

    Ike was a decent striker, scoring six goals before he sustained career-threatening injuries in 2009 and 2010. Between October 2009 and March 2011, for example, he played just one international game due to injuries.

    He bounced back in 2011, scoring eight goals in that calendar year. Sadly, in 2014, for the second time in his career he missed out on the World Cup, despite being Nigeria's top scorer in Europe's major leagues.

    He averaged 0.41 goals per game.

  9. ​Michael Eneramo
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    ​Michael Eneramo

    Caps: 10, Goals: 3, Debut: vs Jamaica, Feb 2009

    Eneramo was largely regarded in several quarters as the 'New Bull', and made his debut at 23, after several successful seasons at Esperance of Tunisia after being persuaded to drop his threats of playing for the Carthage Eagles.

    He never convinced when given an opportunity to showcase his abilities and was unfairly dropped from the 2010 Cup of Nations team.

    Averaged 0.3 goals per game.

  10. ​Emmanuel Emenike
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    ​Emmanuel Emenike

    Caps: 37, Goals: 9, Debut: vs Sierra Leone, Feb 2011

    Emenike made his debut at 23, but initially failed to settle into the team, as there were always issues about his attitude.

    He led Nigeria to her third Afcon in 2013, top scoring with four goals.

    It was a prolific year for Emenike, but he failed to score in his last nineteen games for the Eagles, a barren run that surely played a part in his decision to call it a day with the national team, October 2015.

    He averaged 0.24 goals per game.

  11. ​Odion Ighalo
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    ​Odion Ighalo

    Caps: 35, Goals: 16, Debut: vs Uganda, March 2015

    Ighalo made his debut on the back of a successful campaign in the Championship with Watford and while goals didn't come easily with the national side, he had netted 16 goals by the time he hung up his boots.

    The highlight, of course, was the Golden Boot he won at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, as Nigeria finished third, and the striker returned to prominence-and to English football-with Manchester United earlier this year.

    Some have argued that he should still be in contention for the Super Eagles.

    He averaged 0.46 goals per game