Nigerian Players Abroad: Wilfred Ndidi puts in a decent performance in central defence and what next for Alex Iwobi?

A few talking points about Nigerian players from weekend actions.

Wilfred Ndidi was an emergency central defender for Leicester City over the weekend (Instagram/Wilfred Ndidi)

With the kickoff of the 2020/2021 season of the Premier League and La Liga, there were more Nigerians to look out for.

It wasn’t just in England and Spain, all across the world, a host of Nigerian players were in action for their respective sides.

We look at the following points to discuss how Nigerian players fared abroad over the weekend.

One of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League, Wilfred Ndidi was forced to play as a central defender in Leicester City’s opening day 3-0 away win at West Brom.

Forced by injuries, Leicester City boss Brenden Rodgers started Ndidi in central defence alongside Çağlar Söyüncü and the Nigerian put in a decent performance.

The start was however not great. In the first 10 minutes, he was caught out of position and overplayed a backpass that went in for a corner. He, however, regained confidence and managed to stay solid the entire game.

On West Brom’s part, going from what happened in the first 10 minutes, they would have regrets of not targeting Ndidi during the game.

The Nigerian who started his career in defence rode back the years and helped Leicester City to a clean sheet.

After helping West Brom to promotion to the Premier League, Semi Ajayi made his debut for the Baggies in that game against Leicester City.

He was part of the three-man defence that conceded three goals in the game. To be fair to him and his defensive partners, two of those goals were from the penalty spot. For Leicester City’s first goal though, I believe Ajayi should have done better in providing more cover in the 18-yard-box instead of rushing towards Dennis Praet whose cross was headed in by debutant Timothy Castagne.

Alex Iwobi was missing from Everton’s squad in their opening day 1-0 win over Tottenham. There was no injury reported ahead of the game and Everton are yet to state why the Nigerian was missing.

Even more worrying was how the debutants Allan, Abdoulaye Dacoure and James Rodriguez performed at the Tottenham Stadium. Playing on the right side of midfield, Rodriquez had a calm and tidy performance as he slid balls after balls to Richarlison. André Gomes was another midfielder that impressed.

It doesn’t look like there is a way in for Iwobi into this Everton side at this moment. So we ask, what’s happening with Iwobi?

It is a question at this point because in his almost 30 minutes-appearance for Monaco against Nantes on Sunday won’t be enough to be certain.

He did show some encouraging signs though, Just four minutes after coming on, he showed great pace by getting away from a defender to collect a pass before laying the ball for young forward Willem Geubbels who scored Monaco’s winner.

Onyekuru’s compatriot Moses Simon played 90 minutes for Nantes.

After two years without a first-team competitive football, Tyronne Ebuehi was in action for FC Twente who got a 2-0 win over Fortuna Sittard on the opening weekend of the 2020/2021 Eredivisie season.

It’s been a battle for the right-back who suffered a cruciate ligament when he just joined Benfica in July 2018. Now back fit, the Nigeria international is looking to reignite his career in the Netherlands.

Mikel Obi didn’t put a foot wrong in his six-month stint with Middlesbrough in the Championship in the second half of the 2018/2019 season. He left shortly after for another short stint in Turkey and is back in the English second-tier, this time with Stoke City.

In his first league appearance for the Potters, the veteran midfielder was lauded by fans for how well he played in the holding midfield role. If you know Mikel, you would know how he played. Calm, collected and solid.

Nigerian forward Chidera Ejuke was on the scoresheet for CSKA Moscow in their 3-1 home win over rivals Spartak Moscow.

It was a well-taken goal by Ejuke who will look to continue his upward career trajectory in Russia.


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