The home-based Super Eagles have impressed so far at the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Morocco.
After two wins and a draw in the group stage, Nigerian are also through to the final after wins against Angola and Sudan in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively.
While all the players so far have been impressive, there are however some outstanding performers that must be highlighted.
write on these five performers.
1. Ikechukwu Ezenwa
Already an established Nigeria international, Ikechukwu Ezenwa needed the CHAN tourney to stake his claim to Super Eagles squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He has stepped up to be the leader of the team along with some exceptional saves.
He has been very comfortable, assuring in between the post for the Super Eagles and the confidence he exudes has filtered through the whole team.
Against Angola in the quarter-final, the Enyimba goalkeeper was at his best, pulling off saves to keep Nigeria’s lead.
It’s a shame he’s now injured and will miss the final against Morocco. In his place, Dele Ajiboye has shown promise and will be looking to impress in the final.
2. Stephen Eze
Scoring against the Super Eagles of Nigeria at CHAN 2018 has been very difficult. In five games, Nigeria have only conceded two goals. In the heart of the Super Eagles defence is the big man Stephen Eze who has been very solid.
He has been bullish in defence which has been key. The confidence with which he has manned the defence could have come from the fact that he has already secured a move to Europe.
3. Kalu Orji
Of course the unyielding Super Eagles shouldn’t be credited to just Eze, his partner in defence Kalu Orji has also been massive throughout the tournament.
His anticipation of the game has been top notch so far and has become one of his greatest strength. Despite carrying an injury, he was one of the best Super Eagles players in the semi-final win over Sudan. With Super Eagles playing with just 10 men and defending a one-goal lead, Orji stepped up and was key in the nervy win.
4. Osas Okoro
There is a reason the Super Eagles have been more threatening from the right all through the tournament and that’s the right-back, Osas Okoro.
Originally a winger, the Enugu Rangers star has taken the right side of defence like a duck to water.
His pace troubles opposition defence and he has mastered the art of positioning to make him a hard man to beat.
5. Gabriel Okechukwu
Definitely, a late bloomer in the tournament, Gabriel Okechukwu first taste of action in CHAN 2018 was a less than 10 minutes appearance in Nigeria’s 3-1 win over Equatorial Guinea in the last group game.
In the quarter-final against Angola, he was a 59th-minute substitute but went on to be the hero after netting the winner. In the semi-final against Sudan, he was the man, scoring the only goal that sent Nigeria to the final.
Against Sudan, he had a Man of the Match display, posing the biggest threat to the Sudanese and creating chances for himself.
Nigerians will be counting on him again to deliver the title in the final.