Eagles Watch

Teenage defender, Tunji Akinola makes West Ham debut

…Mikel Agu gets late invitation ahead Serbia friendly

Due to international break, there were no matches at the weekend across Europe and in other major leagues across the globe. The Super Eagles used the avenue to play Poland in an international friendly with Gernot Rohr’s team, emerging victorious.
While the Super Eagles were preparing for the match against their Polish opponents, a Nigerian teenager, Tunji Akinola broke into the starting line-up of Premiership club, West Ham United.
In this report, the News Editor, ADEBAYO OLODAN rates the players fielded by Rohr against Poland plus news surrounding the future of a few of those lads.


Teenage defender, Tunji Akinola makes West Ham debut: Promising defender, Tunji Akinola made first- team debut for West Ham in their 3-1 win against Dagenham & Redbridge last Wednesday.
Hammers manager David Moyes named the 19-year-old in his 20-man match day squad, before handing him his first team debut in the 90th minute as replacement for ex-Manchester Utd left-back Patrice Evra.
As he spent few minutes on the pitch, it will be difficult to rate his performance in his first game for the first team.
Other players of Nigerian descent that took part in the fundraising match are David Agboola, Chike Kandi and Fejiri Okenabirhie, who all wore the jersey of the Daggers.
With a total of 10 Hammers first-team players called up for international duty in March, including defensive-minded players Angelo Ogbonna, Arthur Masuaku and Declan Rice, there is a huge likelihood that Akinola will train with the first-team until they return from their trips.
Born in England, Akinola joined West Ham at the age of eight and penned his first professional contract with the club in 2016.
Chelsea defender, Fikayo Tomori’ll represent Eagles, says aunt: Chelsea defender, Fikayo Tomori is set to commit his international future at senior level to Nigeria.
The Osun State Deputy Governor, Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori, who is the aunt of the youngster made the disclosure at the weekend.
Born in Calgary, Canada 20 years ago to Nigerian parents, the Chelsea defender can also suit up for the Super Eagles as well as the Canadian national team.
He was one of the stars of the England team that lifted the U-20 World Cup for the first time in their history last summer in South Korea, and has been promoted to the U-21s, earning three caps for the age group this season.
”It would be my dream to see him play for the Super Eagles someday. We are so proud of him, so also is his parents,’’ Titi Laoye-Tomori disclosed.
”He is a true professional and also very humble.  He works so hard for his team and no wonder he has won so much at such young age.
”I was with his dad recently and we spoke a lot about his chances of coming to play for Nigeria soon. Right now, he is focusing on his club career and we hope he will come represent his fatherland soon.”
The player is presently on loan at Championship club, Hull City.
No Liverpool contact for Wilfred Ndidi yet: Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi will not be leaving for Liverpool this summer, according to a report.
Tuesday’s breaking news was that the midfielder was bound for Anfield with Guinean journalist Alpha Balde, speaking on RMC radio claiming the Reds had approached the player about a summer transfer.
Those claims have now been rebuffed though with allnigeriasoccer.com reporting that Ndidi, who cost £15million from Genk in January 2017, is committed to Leicester.
“Ndidi is happy at Leicester City, he is 100 per cent committed to Leicester City and it’s confirmed he’s not leaving the club to join Liverpool,” a top source told the Nigerian site.
“Liverpool has not contacted him about joining the club.”
Liverpool are understood to be lining up a replacement for Germany star Emre Can, who looks set to leave the club on a free this summer.
The New Telegraph first claimed Jurgen Klopp was chasing Ndidi in February and Guinean journalist Balde revealed that the club had agreed terms to sign the 21-year-old Nigeria international.


Benfica keen on Joel Obi: Super Eagles and Torino defensive midfielder, Joel Obi may soon quit Italy for a new pasture in Portugal.
According to reports out of Italy, Benfica are interested in Obi who returned to the senior national team at the weekend after scoring a goal for his Italian club penultimate week. Benfica hopes to complete the 26yr-old’s transfer before the start of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Obi was formed at Inter Milan and has spent the last three seasons in Turin.


Victor Osimhen (Wolfsburg): The former schoolboy international scored his team’s second goal to help the club to a 3-0 win over Union Berlin in an international club friendly on Thursday.


Aberdeen hails Nwakali for making Team of the Week: Scottish Premiership club, Aberdeen has congratulated Chidiebere Nwakali for his inclusion in the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) Team of the Week for last weekend’s matches.
The Team of the Week was announced last Wednesday and Nwakali’s inclusion was due to his impressive performance for Aberdeen in their 1-0 home win against Dundee Utd penultimate Saturday.
The former schoolboy international was substituted after 72 minutes. The player who is on loan from Premier League club, Manchester City is in the middle of a three-man midfield in a 4-3-3 formation.
Aberdeen wrote on Twitter; “Well done to Chidi Nwakali who was named in the SPFL Team of the Week.”


Chuba Akpom (St Truiden): The Arsenal loanee scored his club’s second goal via a penalty as they won 2-0 against Lierse in an international club friendly on Thursday.
Henry Onyekuru returns to training after long-term injury
Super Eagles forward, Henry Onyekuru has returned to light training three months after he sustained a knee injury while on loan at Anderlecht.
The 21-year-old copped the injury while in action for the Belgian club in a league match on December 22, 2017 and had to return to Everton, his parent club to continue his recovery.
The former Eupen striker expressed his delight to be back on the pitch in a tweet posted along with a video of him in training.
“I am so grateful to be able to be back running and back with the ball at my feet. It’s been a journey, thank you all for your prayers and support. The Lord is truly my strength,” a delighted Onyekuru wrote beneath the 19 seconds video he posted.
In the video, the striker was noticed running around the training cones and then doing some light jogging.
Onyekuru, who scored nine goals in 19 appearances in the Jupiler League for Anderlecht this season prior to his injury, faces a race against time to be fully fit to make Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup squad.


Justice Erhende joins FC Sonderborg: Danish club FC Sønderborg has announced via their official website the signing of experienced striker, Justice John Erhenede.
The FC Ebedei product had been searching for a new employer since his departure from Kolding IF in July 2016.
In his first words as a Sønderborg player, Erhenede said to the official website of the fourth-tier club: “I’m really happy to get back and have been taken really well by the club and the team.
“I am motivated and look forward to becoming part of the team and especially Sønderborg. I hope to help lift FC Sønderborg to the next level. ”
Head coach Gunnar Guillermo Nielsen added: “Justice can contribute a lot on and off the track with his experience from former top clubs, in addition he is a fresh breath socially.
“I have previously played with him and what qualities he possesses. The plan is that we physically build him over the next few weeks, after which he can add the experience and quality of the squad. I look forward to working with Justice.”
The 31-year-old Erhenede previously wore the jerseys of Danish clubs FC Midtjylland, Vejle BK, Hobro IK and HB Köge, he arrived in the country 14 years ago.
Rohr names players that flopped against Poland
Super Eagles coach manager Gernot Rohr has criticised the performance of the two central midfielders that started the national team’s 1-0 win over Poland, Friday night.
For the first time in their Super Eagles careers, Leicester City midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi and Torino’s Joel Obi lined up together in midfield; Rohr thinks they did not pull their weight and rued the absence of his captain, John Obi Mikel.
Joel Obi, who is very popular with the Nigeria fans, started ahead of Eddy Onazi, and the coaching staff had explained they wanted to see how he adapts to the tactics of Rohr.
”We won without our captain, John Obi Mikel, which happened to us for the first time. We showed that we are not a team of one player,” Rohr told reporters post-match.
”Such matches like this create new leaders, they also make us better as a team. However, the lack of Mikel was visible, we had a lot of problems in the middle of the field.
”On the other hand, I am happy that we have managed without him, I must emphasise that I am waiting for him in the next games. At the World Cup he will be necessary for us.”
In his first appearance for the Super Eagles for close to four years, Joel Obi was replaced by Onazi in the 65th minute while Ndidi went the full ninety.

Agu, Gabriel, Etebo, Ajayi arrive London

Bursaspor hard tackling midfielder, Mikel Agu and Akwa United striker, Gabriel Okechukwu have arrived the Super Eagles camp in London, Saturday evening ahead of Tuesday’s international friendly against Serbia.
They have been joined by the other members of the squad who flew in from Poland and the team is presently lodged at the Crowne  Plaza, Ealing in West London.
Agu and Okechukwu who both missed the 1-0 victory over Poland are now looking forward to the match against Serbia. The former is a late invitee to the team why the latter could not secure a visa to allow him join up with the team in Poland.
Meanwhile, the arrival of Las Palmas midfielder, Oghenekaro Etebo and Al Ahly of Egypt forward, Junior Ajayi was also confirmed Sunday morning while tickets for the match is presently on sale for 10 and 18 pounds for juniors and adults respectively.


Kalu Uche joins League Champions, ATK

Two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champions ATK has signed veteran forward, Kalu Uche on a lucrative one-year-deal for 2018-19 Indian Super League (ISL) football season.
The 35-year-old was on a contract worth around $129,999 at the Delhi Dynamos. However, ATK offered him a massive hike with a deal worth around $300,000.
The former Espanyol striker was in scintillating form for Delhi Dynamos in the recently concluded ISL season and accounted for 13 goals in 15 games, finishing fourth on the top scorers’ list.
Uche was one of the bright spots for Delhi Dynamos in a season where they finished eighth and crashed out of the Super Cup in the qualifiers after being beaten by I-League club Churchill Brothers 2-1. In fact, Uche had scored the opener for Delhi in the game before Willis Plaza scored a brace.
The Kolkata-based franchise, who had a poor ISL season and finished ninth in the league, will be hoping Uche can continue his goalscoring form next season as well.
ATK will be Uche’s third ISL club, having turned out for FC Pune City in the 2015 season.
He last played for the Super Eagles at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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