CAF Africa’s Cup Of Nations starts on Saturday, 14th of this month in Gabon and it is no more news that Nigeria, one of Africa’s football giants, will not have its flag hoisted at the competition.
This is a big loss to Nigeria financially, especially for the media houses and for the players. A lot of media houses look forward to the competition because of revenue they will generate from sponsors and adverts from corporate organisations, but since Nigeria will not be participating, interests from Nigerians for the competition will be minimal and this may be discouraging to advertisers.
On the part of the players, participating in competitions such as Nations Cup enhances their profiles globally, but for Nigerian players who will not be donning the Green and White jerseys, they can only look forward to the next competition come 2019.
While this absence is a huge loss to Nigerian players and Nigerians at large, some clubs in the English Premier League are happy with this. We look at some of these clubs and why they seem to gain from Super Eagle’s absence from the AFCON.
Nigerian Player: Victor Moses
Chelsea will be more than grateful that Nigeria did not qualify for the nations cup because at the moment, they cannot just do without the services of Victor Moses who has morphed to be a pillar in the team.
Ever since Victor Moses was deployed to the wing back position, he has flourished and Chelsea have found their rhythm and are playing good football. They currently top the EPL table. Although no player is indispensable, but Chelsea will struggle if a Victor Moses is absent in their first Eleven.
Arsenal Football Club
Nigerian Player: Alex Iwobi
Nigeria’s loss is Arsenal’s gain in Alex Iwobi. It would have been a huge blow if Nigeria had qualified for the nations cup and Iwobi would be unavailable for the London club, especially at a time when the player is being given much responsibilities in the team.
Recently, Mezut Ozil has not been having good rapport with manager, Arsene Wenger due to contractual issues and the manager has deployed Iwobi in the heart of the attacking midfield where Ozil used to man. The handwriting is clear on the wall that Ozil’s days are numbered in the team.
Leicester City FC
Nigerian Players: Ahmed Musa and Wilfred Ndidi
Already, Leicester City, the EPL champions, have lost three of their key players in persons of Islam Slimani, Riyad Mahrez (Algeria) and Daniel Amartey (Ghana) to this year’s AFCON because the players have gone to represent their countries. It would have been worse for them if the duo of Wilfred Ndidi and Ahmed Musa had joined them to represent Nigeria.
The Club can only be happy for the availability of the players who both made great impact in their last match against Everton. Ahmed Musa scored a brace to pull the team to the next phase of English FA cup while Wilfred Ndidi made his debut appearance for the team he only joined few days ago and was voted as BBC man of the match after an impressive performance.
Nigerian Players: Odion Ighalo and Isaac Success
Although Isaac Success has not really played for Watford due to recurring injury, but his fellow countryman, Odion Ighalo, has remained a key player in the team. His lack of goals in recent time has raised concerns about his future in the team, coupled with interest from clubs in China.
Manchester City FC
Nigerian Player: Kelechi Iheanacho
Kelechi Iheanacho rose against all odds to become city’s second choice striker after Sergio Aguero and he has scored five goals and provided three assists so far even with limited playing time.
On many occasions where Aguero was sidelined, Iheanacho has stepped in perfectly to help city get the goals. Manchester City will be happy the Nigerian youngster will not be leaving their camp for the AFCON because him leaving means they will be left with no back up striker in the team.