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Why Rabiu Ibrahim is a must for Super Eagles midfield


/ by Obiweluozo Martins
The Super Eagles of Nigeria by all standard might look shaky with some level of imbalance from the goal post to the striking force but there is no denying that the strength of the team yesteryears lies in the midfield area occupied by the creative talent of Austin Okocha, Wilson Oruma and Mutiu Adepoju (the Headmaster), but in recent years that area had become its weakness a fact as a result of certain personal changes. 
We emphasize with a clue on how the Eagles midfield that dominated strong teams over the years (for instance Nigeria vs. Cameroon in 2000 Nations Cup final in Surulere, Lagos) can recapture its flair and spark to the delight of Nigerian football. 
On this note we evaluate why Rabiu Ibrahim is a reality check for the Super Eagles midfield.

Several players of different talent have been deployed in Eagles midfield with more than average falling in that role notably Odemwimgie against Greece who could not inspire from the midfield area to set the ball in play.
 Also productivity have been low as regards to some who were acceptable in that position but the emergence of dynamic talent like Kelechi Iheanacho 19+ years have restored hope in that regards as the young lad is capable of linking the midfield to the attacking third (central striker) but that can be efficient under a quality and dynamic personnel in the deep zone .Rabiu can fit into that regard and with Kelechi maturing by the day, the duo are surely a good complement for each other.
 Rabiu the older can offer sheer experience and guile from which Iheanacho can tap from and mesmerize the opposing defence with wonderful run and impeccable finishing. That left foot of the duo are capable of caring out the margin of space to left the Eagles from their recent met midfield status.


John Obi Mikel has taken center stage in Eagles midfield long time ago and so with that regards the creativity mantle always fall on him especially with his high profile status for playing for the one of the most elite club side in Europe in Chelsea FC. The truth here is that there is need for reinvention in the Nigerian midfield as this young man have carried the weight of the attacking midfield position and certainly is time for a division of labour in the midfield department of the Super Eagles. 

Even after his conversion to a defensive midfield role at club side Chelsea the onus for creativity have been channeled to him and thereby leading to restriction of other attacking talent. Many have failed to understand that Mikel under performance in that position is as a result of increase burden and lack of responsibility from his midfield teammate in a three-man midfield mix. Imagine the combo of Mikel, Etuhu and Kaita against Mozambique at the AFCON in 2010, surely we are gonna heap the attacking responsibilities on Mikel only for Osaze Odemwimgie to respond with two individual (goals)effort to save the face of the team. 
Also the Mikel, Onazi and Azeez combination was not been the best as the three are defensive and coredimited throwing in transition but a more dynamic player in Rabiu Ibrahim is needed to aid creativity and dexterity in the final third thereby exonerating the one man Mikel and enhancing his productivity and input as well in the Nigerian midfield mix. 
Rabiu needs to be integrated firmly and consistently to the creative midfield role as he has more than enough in contribution and the earlier this is done the search for goals may still be inefficient following Eagles slender 1-0 win over Tanzania at the weekend.

The Nigerian midfield may possess an array of talent notably Ogenyi Onazi, Wilfred Ndidi and Etebo Oghenekaro but that is not enough in terms of quality and depth for the Super Eagles by all standard. 
There is need for more quality players to be integrated with different ideas and playing schemes which will improve the quality and competition within the mix. With Mikel already a strong contender there is also a need to strengthen competition in the Eagles midfield to awake desire and passion to keep places in the National Team. This competition among decent crop of player can only be productive for Nigeria as the best talent are in contention to make it to the starting eleven.
 Rabiu Ibrahim in particular John Ogu and Anderson Esiti should not be forgotten due to the emergence of Iwobi and Iheanacho but should be incorporated in the mix to promote healthy competition and strife to retain place in Eagles midfield and to avoid lack of depth when one player is done injured in the treatment room just like Joel Obi who is still finding his feet at the rejuvenated Torino side.

Austin Okocha at the Joseph Yobo Testimonial in Port Harcourt in May.

Rabiu Ibrahim ,the talented midfield player who can recapture the deft touches of  Jay-Jay for the Eagles

Austin Jay-Jay Okocha have left massive impression in the National Team with flair and eye catching displays. In the recent Joseph Yobo testimonial the talismanic player (Jay-Jay) took center stage even with the pronouncement of the match commentator that the game is looking like Jay-Jay Okocha exhibitions. Many people were  tempted to forget who has the order of the day (YOBO) as Okocha showed why he is loved and will be missed until a capable replacement is given its rightly deserve place(Rabiu Ibrahim). Jay-Jay who was so good that they named him twice set up Emenike on both occasion prompting legendary Cameron forward Samuel Eto’o who is on the opposing side to Okocha in the testimonial to signal the substitution of Jay-Jay with fun and delight of the Nigerians fans.

 Okocha might have achieve both positive and negative, on the positive he has succeed in showcasing these silky touches of his that the younger generation may not know much about and likewise remind Nigerians (negatively) what they are going to be missing in the Eagles in years to come but the remedy is that Rabiu Ibrahim who is the closest to replacing Okocha has the ability and class to replicate those tiny dribble and nimble footwork which Okocha showcased during his days in the National Team.

With that wonderful performance against Niger in a friendly were Rabiu captured our mind with decent display, there is a real need to get him back into the mix to recall the sweet memories left behind by the Veteran Jay-Jay who is a class of his own.

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