In the current AFCON u-17 tournament standings for Group B, the Golden Eaglets are ranked second
The absence of one of the most promising players in Nigeria’s Under-17 team who made the Golden Eaglet squad, and is currently donning the number 10 jersey, Ifeoluwa Olowoporoku, has started to puzzle the Nigerian sports community.
Even though he (14) is the youngest of the players in Nduka Ugbade‘s squad, many individuals who saw him do incredible feats at the goal project during the U-17 screening maintain that despite his young age, he has the best degree of football intelligence of all the players selected. Even though he is just 14 years old and not physically built, football is said to need more than just physical prowess.
Many different opinions about why a player like that would not have received any minutes so far in the 15th edition of the biennial international youth championship are circulating on social media.
Speaking to a few persons who were present at the goal project and may have seen him during the U17 screening, Soccernet.ng discovered that many believed Ifeoluwa would not only be selected for the final roster but would also serve as the team’s captain at the young age of 14.
Even though Ugbade’s lads won the game against Zambia, the Golden Eaglets’ lack of creativity in the final third indicates that the squad lacked an attacking midfielder who was adept at making the decisive pass. Precious Williams received the lone ball in the final third from defensive midfielder Hope Linus, who did not convert it. The opposition had discovered the Eaglet as well, and they had avoided any fouls that would have allowed Emmanuel Michael, a free-kick expert, to harm them.
The same issue was more apparent against Morocco, who, after scoring the first goal, chose to lose control and sit back. We may rejoice all we want for the possession in the game, but it is important to remember that the Moroccans deliberately gave up the possession. Would the golden eaglet have had so much possession if they had not scored right away and had instead chosen to play and try to score?
The fact that the team generated several opportunities but only had four strikes on target is another aspect. It’s important to remember that there are few opportunities for the striker to wreak havoc on the opposition truly.
We should remember that the Golden Eaglet lack a midfielder who can find the space between the final stretch of defence and the first line of defence, something that the Nigerian number 10 Olowoporoku has reportedly been good at.
Ifeoluwa is a star, I watch him daily at the U17 camp, and I can confirm to you that he merits his inclusion in the team. pic.twitter.com/72I9Ns40Di
— Pius Idoko (Magnum P I) (@IdokoPius35) April 23, 2023
Throughout the matchup with Morocco. A proper offensive-minded midfielder who excels in tight spaces and delivers final passes could have prevented the Eaglet’s strikers from having to drop deep to receive passes, which meant that whenever they received the ball, they had to face one or two opponents before getting to the goal.
Additionally, it has been reported that whenever he played, Olowoporoku averaged more forward and final passes than any other midfielder in his position.
One is compelled to question why he was kept on the bench. Could it be that the starlet does not possess enough physical strength for African football, and Ugbade has concerns about it? However, it is important to remember that players in his position have never been the most physically gifted. Mention players like Luka Modrić, Martin Odegard, Andrés Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Mesut Ozil, and a plethora of others.
These players depend more on intellect than strength. Furthermore, if Nigeria is going to benefit in any way from this competition, starting with their matchup against South Africa, the squad should be centred on a player like Ifeoluwa.