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Ighalo, Musa or Ideye: Who should lead Nigeria's attack after Emmanuel Emenike's retirement?


                                                                                                                                                                                  Image credit: BBC

Emmanuel Emenike has decided to call it quits with the Super Eagles.
The news may be sudden and shocking but to some, it is not unexpected judging by the 'closeness' of the Al Ain attacker with estranged ex-skipper Enyeama.

The Super Eagles coach's decision to dramatically replace Enyeama as captain of the national side was always going to create multiple ripples and this is another one he has to deal with.
Now, Sunday Oliseh has to find another capable forward to wear the Number 9 jersey for the senior national team.

Only recently, the former international was resolute in deposing Vincent Enyeama and installing 22-year old Ahmed Musa as the new skipper.
It was a bold move that caused a few rancour. Oliseh may not have handled the situation too well but he stood by his decision and masterminded an impressive victory over Cameroun.

Another decision currently begs to be made: who leads the attack for the ex-Olympic gold medalist’s team?
During his stay thus far, Oliseh has preferred striker Emmanuel Emenike despite the goal-shy frontman’s continued goal drought.  But with Emenike’s sudden retirement comes the chance for others to step into the shoes left behind.

The Al Ain attacker, instrumental to most of Stephen Keshi's successes, has been suffering some form of drought for a while now. So energetic and a handful for defenders, Emenike's missing scoring boots had become a source of worry and it had been muted that he may have been dropped in subsequent matches. The last time the burly, ex-Fenerbahce man found the net for the Super Eagles was over 2 years ago in Ethiopia. That's a wait too long even for a rookie striker.

Goals decide games.
In that regard, now is not the time for the national team handler to rue Emenike’s absence but to find an even better replacement who knows how to knock the ball past goalkeepers.

A few names quickly come to mind.
Obafemi Martins has rolled back the hands of time and his banging in the goals in the MLS like a refreshed 20 year old.
But his days with the Eagles are long gone and Oliseh doesn't appear like one who would desire to reverse that.
Bart Ogbeche suffers the same fate. His resurgence in Holland has been nothing short of a miracle. But his fate with the national side is sealed.

That leaves Ahmed Musa, Brown Ideye and Odion Ighalo.
Musa has never really convinced as a centre forward and has usually been deployed as a winger when on national assignment but his goalscoring feats with his Russian club may convince Sunday Oliseh to give his skipper the chance to lead the frontline.

Not one fan sees Ideye as a prolific marksman. He doesn’t score that many but he’s been known to be a technical team player.  Despite his forgettable stay in England with West Brom, the 2013 AFCON winner has managed to secure Champions League football in Turkey with Olympiacos.
He is easily the country's most ranked striker in Europe's biggest club competition.
Yet he doesn't score enough and that may shift Sunday Oliseh's focus from him to another who a couple of years ago was not even on a shortlist of Nigeria's top 50.

However, an incredible season with Watford, which culminated in the Hornets' promotion to the Premier League, has catapulted Ighalo to the top of the chart.
He has not stopped scoring since and five goals in just eight EPL games indicate that he can also mix it with the big boys.

What's more? In the Super Eagles' last international friendly against Cameroun, after Emenike had ran fruitlessly around for 70 odd minutes, Ighalo, in as a substitute, only needed less than a quarter of that to register his name on the scorer's sheet.
It was a big statement, one even Oliseh can't ignore.

Nigeria's next game is against Swaziland in a qualifier and whosoever the coach fields in that encounter may just be the next striker that the coach places his trust in and it will be a surprise if it is not one of these three.

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