Not being a force on the international football scene at senior level in the 80s made the national team somewhat unattractive and resulted in Nigeria losing many of her football players to other national teams. English-born John and Justin Fashanu, Ugo Ehiogu and John Salako are classic examples.
The European lure also turned away Emmanuel Olisadebe, Patrick Owomoyela, Chuka Okaka, Ugochukwu Onyewu, Angelo Ogbonna, and David Alaba. While Olisadebe was a relative success with Poland, as is David Alaba with Austria today, most of the others fizzled out of reckoning, into international obscurity. Emmanuel Olisadebe in Poland colours
Meanwhile Reuben Agboola, Osaze Odemwingie, Victor Anichebe, Hope Akpan and Victor Moses pitched tents with Nigeria, and have derived satisfaction and varied level of successes with the Super Eagles.
For several years now, there has been talk of rebuilding a “new Super Eagles”, but never before now has this been realer. In less than a year under German Coach Gernot Rohr, the Super Eagles is undergoing commendable recalibration. An unbiased injection of deserving youthful talent has triggered improved performances, while an aura of renewed confidence is palpable in the team’s ranks as well as amongst its followership.
Where Gabriel Agbonlahor opted for the English national team and Nedum Onuoha still waits for an impracticable invitation to the Three Lions, young and talented players with dual-nationality like Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong and Alex Iwobi have not only improved the team, but have no doubt made it a more appealing team. A bright future beckons even as there is room for improvement.
Jordon Ibe is another of such European-born players with Nigerian roots. A switch from former European Champions Liverpool FC to Bournemouth (a club of lesser prestige) and the seemingly diminishing chance of making the Three Lions of England may have reportedly prompted Ibe to reconsider his international future. He is believed to now be interested in donning Nigeria’s green despite having turned down an invitation just over a year ago sparking a debate as to whether or not the Super Eagles needs his services.
Jordon Ibe who will be 21 years this December, is eligible to play for Nigeria as his father is Nigerian. He currently plays as an attacker for English Premier League side AFC Bournemouth who signed him from Liverpool FC this year, having cut his teeth in the youth system of Wycombe Wanderers before joining Liverpool in 2011. So what can he bring to the Super Eagles?
Rebuffing the initial advances by the Nigerian football has more or less put Jordon Ibe in the “bad books” of the authorities and the fans alike. However, it is very probable that he will want to redeem that image by churning out impressive performances for the team.
Ibe is, without a doubt, a talented player. He is also very versatile as he can play as a winger or an attacking midfielder. Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers described Ibe as a “talented player with a bright footballing brain,” while The Guardian assesses him as having “impressive pace, power and good temperament, intelligence, creativity and directness.” His strengths are a high work rate and pace in addition to an ability to create chances by picking out decisive passes in the opponent’s area.
Ibe is still very young with several years of a promising career ahead. His inclusion in the Super Eagles will provide further options and engender more competition for places with the likes of Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi and Victor Moses. This can only augur well of the team in terms of output from these players, now and for a long while to come.
While still very young, Ibe will bring bags of experience to the Super Eagles attacking line having been under the tutelage of the likes of Steve McClaren, Brendan Rogers and Jurgen Klopp, playing and impressing in the top two cadres of English football over the last 5 years (for Liverpool, Birmingham City, Derby County and now Bournemouth). He also has a decent disciplinary record.
In the bigger picture, the Super Eagles has nothing to lose by inviting Jordon Ibe because he will either play well and strengthen the team, or he will be dumped if he does not measure up to the required standard. With the latter looking the more unlikely scenario, it would not hurt the team in any way to invite to contribute his quota to the team.