A 30-man squad comprising new invitees into the Super Eagles was released on Tuesday
As Nigeria prepared for the double header clash against Ghana in March, Austin Eguavoen, the former interim coach of the Super Eagles revealed he needed a midfielder in the mould of Mutiu Adepoju or Thompson Oliha.
Both players, fantastic box-to-box midfielders in their playing days had qualities currently missing in the Super Eagles and Eguavoen was not oblivious to this fact.
While he failed to make the most of the resources at hand, he revealed he’d sent one of his friends to help him look at a young Nigerian midfielder in Antwerp. Enter Alhassan Yusuf.
“And there’s a player as well in Antwerp. You know Belgium is my home as well,” Eguavoen told Elegbete TV.
”There’s a midfielder in FC Antwerp. I’ve told people to help me check him out as well. To help me get his contact, but I only saw him on TV. I have to travel to Antwerp when the time is right and we will sit down and discuss. Because of the qualities I said I’m looking for, one of my friends Mark, a Belgian citizen has helped me check the boy out and the boy has that quality that I said I want.”
Born in Kano, Yusuf joined Swedish club, IFK Gotebörg in 2018 as a 17-year old. He was discovered in the famous Gothia Cup where his local team Tiki Taka FC thrilled a Swedish football audience. Yusuf’s skills caught the eye and he was given a deal by one of Sweden’s most successful football teams.
He played in the club’s academy for sometime but was soon promoted to the first team after a few months. He joined Belgian side, Royal Antwerp in 2021 and has been a mainstay of the team ever since.
Playing alongside former Inter Milan and Roma midfielder, Radja Naingollan for Antwerp, Yusuf has gained a wealth of experience this season and his game has improved greatly.
In 26 Jupiler league games, he scored 3 goals and had one assist but his game was much more based on his midfield presence, ball-winning ability and movement. In some quarters, he’s excitedly regarded as an Ngolo Kante-esque.
Yusuf can play as a defensive midfielder or in a more advanced central midfield position where he’s most comfortable.
According to Whoscored, passing, long shots and tackling are his strong areas while aerial duels are his weakness, due to his somewhat diminutive stature.
The 21-year old midfielder is one of Nigeria’s finest young players in Europe and is rated as one of the most valued young Nigerian players abroad.