Over the years Nigerian’s have been clamouring for a team filled with raw talents and players who are willing to put on the green white green. The Gods must have heard and listened to our cry by gifting us with two of the most talented players in the world. They need no introduction as they are been considered the future by many journalists and football fanatics back home. Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester city) and Alex Iwobi (Arsenal). The latter having move through the ranks of the Arsenal youth academy and nephew to football legend Austin ‘JayJay’ Okocha is blessed with a killer first touch and abundance of skill and energy.
Kelechi Promise Iheanacho (born 3 October 1996), who plays for Premier League club Manchester City and the Nigeria national team. He has made appearances for the Manchester City U-21 team, as well as the Nigeria squad that won the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup and the Nigeria U-20 team at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Iheanacho was called up to the Manchester City senior squad for the 2015–16 season. Iheanacho has represented Nigeria at youth levels from under-13 upwards. His first experience of a major international tournament was the 2013 African U-17 Championship in Morocco. For Iheanacho, the highlight was a hat-trick in a win against Botswana. He dedicated his goals to his mother, who died two months before the tournament. Nigeria reached the final of the competition, where they were defeated on penalties by the Ivory Coast. Iheanacho played a significant role in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where he won the Golden Ball award for player of the tournament. Nigeria won the competition, in which Iheanacho scored six times, including once in the final, and provided seven assists. In the run-up to the 2014 African Nations Championship, Iheanacho trained with the senior Nigeria squad but was released from the squad in order to travel to England to sign with Manchester City.
He was part of the Nigeria squad for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, and featured in two matches. He was selected by Nigeria for their 35-man provisional squad for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but failed to make the final 18. Iheanacho made his senior debut as a substitute in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Swaziland in which Nigeria drew 0–0. His first start for the senior team was on 25 March 2016, a 1–1 draw with Egypt in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match. Kelechi Iheanacho was selected by Nigeria in friendly games against Mali and Luxembourg in May 2016. He scored in the two games providing an assist against Luxembourg. His performance in the friendly matches inspired further confidence within football circles in the nation and was invited to make his competitive debut against Egypt in an African cup of nations qualifying series where he provided an assist for Oghenekaro Etebo in the home game. Despite the change made in the coaching personnel in August this year, he distinguished himself again as one of the most important players in the team when he scored two super goals in the two matches against Tanzania in Uyo and Zambia in Ndola.
Alex Iwobi (born 3 May 1996) on the other hand plays as a winger and a striker for Premier League club Arsenal. Iwobi was born in Lagos before moving to England at the age of four. He is the nephew of ex-professional footballer Jay-Jay Okocha. Iwobi joined Arsenal while still at primary school, and was first involved in a first-team match as an unused substitute in a League Cup match against West Bromwich Albion on 25 September 2013. He signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal in October 2015. On 27 October 2015, Iwobi made his first-team debut for the club, starting in a 3–0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the Round of 16 of the League Cup. He made his Premier League debut four days later in a 3–0 win against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium, as a stoppage time substitute for Mesut Özil. Iwobi made his Champions League debut as an 85th-minute substitute in a 5–1 defeat against Bayern Munich. Iwobi started in the first team for the 2015–16 FA Cup 3rd and 4th round home wins against Sunderland and Burnley respectively. After getting a first Champions League start in a 3–1 away defeat to Barcelona, Iwobi went on to score two goals in his first two Premier League starts in wins against Everton and Watford, respectively. After playing youth football for England, Iwobi elected to play for Nigeria and made his senior debut on 8 October 2015, replacing Ahmed Musa in the 57th minute of a 2–0 friendly defeat to DR Congo in Visé, Belgium. He was selected by Nigeria for their 35-man provisional squad for the 2016 Summer Olympics but didn’t make the final cut due to club commitments and other related issues.
With proper monitoring and tutoring this two can lift Nigeria beyond her current level. Mentioning just these two would be unjust to other young gems like victor Ssimhen, Kelechi Nwakali, Chidibere Nwakali, William Troost-Ekong who has been regarded has the future captain of this team by Colin Udoh.
Will they all live up to expectation, the all of Nigeria awaits.
Can you see Nigeria going far in future tournaments? Let us know in the comments below!