With Adebayo Olodan
With the 2018 World Cup less than 40 days away, it is expected that Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr may have finalised the list of his 35-man provisional squad for the task in Russia.
Not that the 35 players will make it to the World Cup rather the gaffer is pruned that the list to 23 players that will include three goalkeepers and 20 outfield players.
One Nigerian that is yet to wear the green and white jersey but deserved to be included in the squad for Russia 2018 is Simeon ‘Simy’ Nwankwo, who is at the moment the hottest Nigerian striker in Europe.
Standing at 6ft6, Simeon who is popularly called Simy for short is the tallest player in the Italian Serie A and the only Nigerian forward in the league.
In his last five matches, the lanky striker has scored as many goals and many reach double figures before the end of the season after a shaky start at Crotone.
The Nigerian broke the internet about three weeks ago when he scored a replica of Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal to earn Crotone a surprise 1-1 draw against Juventus. Ever since then, Simy has continued on a surge of goals, hitting a brace in the 4-1 annihilation of Sassulo. He has went on to score three more goals in other matches and at the moment Simy is on six goals and on the verge of saving his team from relegation.
The player who was born in Onitsha, Anambra State on May 7, 1992 has been on a meteoric rise after he secured a move to the junior team of Portimonense in 2011 where he scored 17 goals in 55 matches in two years. He moved on to another Portuguese side, Gil Vicente where he registered 29 goals in 88 appearances between 2013 and 2016.
For the Super Eagles to excel in Russia, it is imperative we travel with our best legs based on current form. Simy appeared to have hit a rich vein of form at the right time and it will not be a bad idea if he is considered for some of the friendly matches to be played by the Eagles.
“I am ready for the national team if given the opportunity. I have been focusing solely on doing well for me team and getting them out of relegation which we have almost achieved.
“Playing for Nigeria will obviously be an amazing feeling but like I said, only the coach can decide that, but if invited, I will give my best for the country,” the striker was quoted to have said in a recent interview.
At the moment, China-based Odion Ighalo is the only target man that is assured of travelling to Russia with the Super Eagles if he stays fit. Kayode Olanrewaju, Anthony Ujah, Brown Ideye, Isaac Success and Anthony Nwaekeme have had their chances in the team but are yet to live up to expectation.
If eventually picked, Simy, I believe will cause a lot of problem for defenders in Russia especially if he gets the right supply from Alex Iwobi, Mikel Obi, Victor Moses, Moses Simon and Wilfred Ndidi among others.
Not many strikers are good enough to score against a legend like Gianluigi Buffon but Simy did in a spectacular fashion. That spectacular bicycle kick scored against Juventus speaks volume of the quality the Nigerian striker is made of.
Ever since the retirement of the goal king, Rashidi Yekini (now of blessed memory) the Super Eagles have lacked a predatory striker, reason the team has struggled to win trophies of late. Victor Agali, Obafemi Martins, Emmanuel Emenike, Peter Osaze Odemwingie, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Kanu Nwankwo, Ikechukwu Uche and his brother, Kalu Uche have all tried but none of them have been able to replicate the form of Yekini in the green and white jersey.
Now is the time to try the ‘Simy Option’ as the country heads to the World Cup. The fact that he is yet to make his debut for the team at this stage should not be a downside but rather Rohr should be glad he now has a player to lead his attack in Russia. Having Simy has the first option off the substitutes bench when the Eagles is chasing a match at the World Cup will not be a bad idea after all. Presently, I will prefer a Simy on my bench than any of Ideye, Nwaekeme, Ujah and Olanrewaju.
The Crotone forward may even surprise everyone by relegating the more experienced Ighalo to the bench if given a good run-in before the team lands in Russia.