Six years into winning the FIFA under 17 world Cup in 2013, Manu Garba’s young lads have now gone into what can be regarded as oblivion. Having only one representative currently active in the Super Eagles (Francis Uzoho).
Much were said about the lads during their time, with many comparing their playing style to that of Barcelona. Manu Garba’s boys were a beauty to behold during their under 17 days.
But all those glory days for the young men have since been long gone. Most of the players now either play for relatively unknown side, or have fallen out of favour with their managers, for those who still appear in the big six European leagues.
Worthy of note in that team is Kelechi Iheanacho, the poster boy of the team who was earlier referred to as the new Kanu Nwankwo. He was a beauty to behold with his left foot, he commanded the midfield like like an army general, winning the most valuable player of the tournament.
The player Iheanacho’s exploit at the under 17 World Cup awarded him with a contract at Manchester city, he was later sold to Leicester City after he couldn’t find game time with the English giants.
Iheanacho has since fallen out of favour with Leicester city manager Brendan Rogers failing to make an appearance for the foxes in their first six league games. Under previous managers he also found it difficult to get game time.
Kelechi Iheanacho has also fallen out of favour with Super Eagles manager Gernoth Rohr who dropped the the player from his bronze winning team at the 2019 AFCON. He was called up for the friendly against Ukraine, but has been dropped again from the squad to face the Samba boys of Brazil.
Next name worthy of note is Isaac Success the top striker of the side, although got injured after the second game in the World Cup and was replaced by Taiwo Awoniyi. Success became a hopeful for the Super Eagles after showing promise, but since he has failed to break into the first team even in his European side Watford.
Only one player(Francis Uzoho) from this one time darlings of Nigerian football is consistent in the Super Eagles. He was not even an integral part of the 2013 team, not making a single appearance.
Who is to blame for this development? Many have criticized the Nigerian Football Federation for not doing enough to properly monitor this lads, and groom their raw talents into maturity.
But in defense of the NFF, we have seen shinning stars also come out from the next set under 17 doing exploits for both club and country in world football.
Personal development should be the first and primary aim of the of a player that intends to go far in world football.
Nigerians are eager to see these stars shine on the big stage. With sustainable football policy development, and player personal development a lot can be achieved in football in this country.