Chelsea loan coach of Nigerian descent, Eddie Newton is impressed with the progress made by Nigerian players Kenneth Omeruo, Ola Aina and Fikayo Tomori this season, and has lavished praise on the three defenders. Super Eagles stars Omeruo and Aina were recently ranked the top two most in-form Nigerian players for the month of February by CIES Football Observatory, while Tomori continues to impress at Derby County under the tutelage of Blues hero Frank Lampard. Newton noted that people doubted the ability of Omeruo when he joined CD Leganes on loan but the central defender has thrived at the Spanish club.
”I think it has been one of our most successful seasons. We have got the boys in the Championship. They are all playing really well,” Newton said to goal.com. ”Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount, notably at Derby County. We have many boys in the Championship doing really well.” He added : “Ola Aina at Torino is doing really well this season, and I am really pleased for him. ”Kenneth Omeruo at Leganes in La Liga, a lot of people had doubted him but he has gone into one of the strongest leagues and he is standing strong. We are ecstatic with it.”
Both Aina and Tomori have played competitively for Chelsea’s first team in the past, while Omeruo has been farmed out on loan to five different clubs since his arrival at Stamford Bridge in January 2012.
Both Ola Aina and Kenneth Omeruo have been invited for Super Eagles AFCON qualifiers against Seychelles and also the international friendly match against Pharoahs of Egypt. An analysis of the roster revealed that three goalkeepers, eight defenders, four midfielders and eight strikers are part of the 23-man group. There is a first time call-up for FC Midtjylland striker Paul Onuachu as well as Enyimba’s Valentine Ozornwafor, who starred in last month’s U20 Africa Cup of Nations. Super Eagles skipper John Obi Mikel, Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, Watford’s Isaac Success and Porto loanee Mikel Agu have not been summoned for the two games. Anorthosis goalkeeper Francis Uzoho has received another call-up though he has been officially inactive for more than two months and he’ll challenge African-based pair Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi for the number one spot.
The Super Eagles face Seychelles in a meaningless AFCON qualifier on March 23 before tackling Egypt in a friendly, with both games taking place at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Katsina United); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa)
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Valentine Ozornwafor (Enyimba FC, U20 defender & Home-based); Chidozie Awaziem (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany)
Midfielders: Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassar FC, Saudi Arabia); Victor Osimhen (Charleroi SC, Belgium); Moses Simon (Levante FC, Spain); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK, Turkey); Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua, China); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Paul Onuachu (FC Midtjyland, Denmark)