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As the Super Eagles head into the last two matches in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that could determine the fate of the reigning Champions as it concerns next year’s continental showpiece, Ahmed Musa could become Nigeria’s joker in those matches and beyond.
Musa who I once described as “a truly paradoxical character” saved Nigerians from a potential high-blood pressure situation with his brace against Sudan in the recent Cup of Nations qualifier. Conversely Emmanuel Emenike whose primary responsibility, one can argue, is to score the goals, was, again, absent from the scoresheet.
In this feature, we seek to determine how feasible it is for the CSKA Moscow forward to spearhead the Super Eagles’ attack, hence usurping Emenike as Nigeria’s go-to guy.
Though it is perhaps not the easiest thing to do in the world, it shouldn’t really take much energy to accept when one is proven wrong about a situation or an individual.
Before the make-or-break match against Sudan in Abuja, which Nigeria eventually won 3-1, much of the pre-match ramblings were channeled towards the Fenerbahce forward, who was backed to end his goal drought. He was considered to be the Super Eagles’ hope, rather than the somewhat wasteful Ahmed Musa.
And, surprise, surprise, it was the unheralded fellow that stepped up and saved the day with his well-taken brace.
Definitely, there are many others, who, like me, have not been very patient with the former VVV Venlo forward. And perhaps the reason for such overwhelming badgering of the winger-cum-striker is due to his inconsistent displays with the national team, rather than as a result of a lack talent or ability.
For much of his career with Nigeria, Musa has been deployed as an out-and-out winger, saddled with the task of stretching defences and cutting in to provide the killer pass/cross. So far, it’s not been a very fruitful expedition.
What has been working, though, is his striker-esque sense of positioning and timely runs inside the box, and at least, lately his calmness and composure to slot the ball into the back of the net. From 2010 till 2013, Musa scored only five goals, whereas, this year alone, he has four to his name
For his first goal against Sudan, he was right on the edge of the box, waiting steadfastly for John Obi Mikel, who was, surprisingly, busy dribbling past four Sudanese players, before releasing the ball to the 22-year old, who skipped over one defender and slotted home to ease nerves.
On the basis of this potentially newfound swagger, which is actually refreshing, does Musa embody the ideal proposition to solving Nigeria’s goal creation and scoring problems?