FEATURE ARTICLE

Cyril C. NwokejiTuesday, October 27, 2015
cyril.nwokeji@wol.be
Belgium

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EMMANUEL EMENIKE: EXIT OF A BULLISH, BLOCK-BUSTING STRIKER!

Emmanuel Emenike


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mmanuel Emenike's retirement from the Super Eagles was as sudden as it was surprising. It came as a very big surprise, to the Nigerian football family. The fact he was experiencing a two-year international goal drought notwithstanding, he was still considerd a very important member of the Super Eagles family, under the new coaching dispensation, under leadership of Coach Sunday Oliseh.

What does yours sincerely know about this top striker ?:

Emmanuel Emenike, left the shores of Nigeria, to play professional soccer abroad, in rather difficult circumstances. Apart from being an unsung player, in his native country, Nigeria, his case was not helped by an NFF, that was apparently, not co-operative, to his overseas transfer. He thus landed in South-Africa, his first port of call as a professional player, bitter with the NFF, at this apparent shoddy treatment. Like the trojan he is, he quickly put that bitter feeling behind, and faced his professional career squarely. Within the shortest possible time, he had established himself, as a top striker, in the South-African top flight, banging in goals with reckless abandon! As a consequence, he caught the attention of scouts of the then Turkish second division side: Karabukspoor. He was subsequently, signed by this team. He quickly established himself in the Turkish second division, for Karabukspoor; and played a big role in their promotion to the Turkish top flight, through the goals he scored for this team.

In the Turkish first division, he continued with his uncanny knack for goals; and helped establish karabukspoor, as a decent first division side, in their very first season, in the top flight, with ten league goals! The Turkish top club: Fenerbahche, took notice and subsequently signed him, after just one season, in the Turkish top flight! At about the same time, the former Super Eagles skipper: Joseph Yobo, who was on loan, in Fenerbahche, also noticed him and together with the then Super Eagles' coach: Samson Sia Sia, tried to convince him to play for the Super Eagles. At about the same time, the Turkish soccer authorities, also tried to convince him to play for the Turkish national team.

Emmanuel Emenike, was initially, reluctant to commit his international future to Nigeria; considering his earlier negative experience with the NFF. However, after much persuations, by former skipper Yobo and Coach Samson Sia Sia, the patriotic fervour in him, took the upper hand, and he committed his international future, to Nigeria.

He made his international debut for Nigeria, in the 2-1 victory over Sierra-Leone, at the" Onikan Stadium," Lagos, in February 2011. He was to blossom in the Coach Samson SiaSia - tutored Super Eagles, scoring the fourth goal, in the 4-1 demolition of the "Albaceleste," of Argentina, in a friendly, in Abuja, in June 2011.

He was unfortunately, one of the 'culprits,' in the drawn game: 2-2, against Guinea, in October, 2011 in Abuja, in a final 2012 Nations' cup qualifier. A drawn game that resulted in Nigeria's elimination, in the race to the 2012 Nations' cup tournament. Emmanuel Emenike, was blamed by the press, for his wastefulness, in front of goal, that day!

Under the coaching dispensation of Coach Stephen Keshi, Emmanuel Emenike, was not immediately embraced, as Coach Keshi, initially preferred, Ikechukwu Uche and Yakubu Aiyegbeni, for the top striker's position. However, Coach Keshi, looked the way of Emmanuel Emenike, after the disappointing performance of Yakubu Aiyegbeni, in the 2013 Nations' cup qualifier in and against Rwanda.

Emmanuel Emenike, played a moderate role in Nigeria's qualification for the 2013 Nations' cup competition, under Coach Keshi.

At the 2013 Nations' cup competition, in South-Africa, Emmanuel Emenike, blossomed from the very first match against Burkina -Faso; scoring Nigeria's only goal that day, off a beautiful back hiel flick by Brown Ideye, after the later, nicely collected a beautiful cross field pass from John Mikel Obi.That game ended 1-1.

In the second match against Zambia, he scored Nigeria's only goal that day, after collecting a beautiful pass from John Mikel Obi, waltzed his way through two Zambian defenders, before unleashing his 'bullet' shot, for Nigeria's goal.

In the last group's game against Ethiopia, he showed his versatility, by playing well, as a right winger. The Super Eagles scrapped through on a 2-0 win; and was given no chance against tournament favourites Ivory Coast, in the quarter-finals.

However, in the match against the Ivory-Coast, Emmanuel Emenike, set the tone for Nigeria's eventual, unlikely victory, by thundering home, in the 39th minute, a fourty meter, block-busting, grass cutter of a bullish goal, off a pass from John Mikel Obi; that made the top Ivorian goalkeeper: Copa Barry, look like a glorified amateur! It was a goal that made the once invisible "Elephants" of Ivory Coast, with their array of super stars, look ordinary; and eventually helped in the unexpected 2-1 victory of Nigeria over Ivory Coast. That goal, with benefit of hindsight, in the considerd opinion of yours truly, was the best international goal of Emmanuel Emenike; and may be one of the best, if not the best of his entire soccer career so far! By so doing, he warmed his way into the hearts of his soccer-crazy country men and women, who were and will forever be grateful, for helping the Super Eagles, get past the then much dreaded "Elephants," of Ivory Coast, enroute, to winning a third African Nations' cup title!

Emenike's fantastic form at the Nations' cup of 2013, continued, as he was a member of a three-man ' riot' squad that virtually tore to pieces and eventually demolished the Malians in the semi-finals, by four goals to one! The other members were: Victor Moses and Brown Ideye. A Dutch commentator, during the match, noted that a coach that had the three- man 'riot' squad, as attackers, was indeed a lucky coach! This is however not undermining the efforts of the other members of the Super Eagles squad, who also contributed immensely to Nigeria 's victory on that day!

The injured Emenike, missed the final match, due to injury; and was sorely missed on that day, as the Super Eagles, lost a plethora of chances, that could have made the Burkinabes look ordinary. In a BBC interview, before the final match, he expressed supreme confidence, in a Super Eagles victory, notwithstanding his absence; and that came to pass!

Emmanuel Emenike, was the 2013 Nations' cup tournament's top scorer and a member of the "Nations' cup XI," as the best centre-forward, of the tournament!

He played a vital role in the Super Eagles' qualification campaign for Brazil 2014; and was largely responsible for the elimination of Ethiopia, during the play-offs, for a spot, in Brazil 2014. He scored the two goals against Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa. The first one came against the run of play, as he characteristically, bulldozed his way through the Ethiopian defence, before firing home. He was one of the Nigerian players, considerd for the title of:" African Footballer of the year," 2013!

At the World cup tournament in Brazil, 2014, he was one of the light points of a poorly selected, and averagely performed team; bringing the vital pull out against Bosnia and Herzogovina, from the right wing, that was fired home by Osaze Odenwingie, for Nigeria's only and winning goal of the match! He was unlucky not to be on the scoring charts, in the quarter-finals, as his beautiful goal against France, was ruled offside!

Emmanuel Emenike, before the 2014 World cup tournament and in the aftermath of it, entered a goal drought, that lasted two years. For a top striker, this brings with it, enormous pressure; and may not have played a small role, in his decision to quit international soccer.

In conclusion, Emmanuel Emenike's involvement with the Super Eagles, can be likened to a star that appeared briefly in the Super Eagles' firmament; shone brightly, and bestly, and with unbridled incandescence and flurescence and eventually disappeared while the ovation, was still loudest. With thirty-nine Super Eagles' caps and nine goals over a period of four and a half years, the story couldn't have been told differently.

Yours sincerely, like all Super Eagles fans, wishes Emmanuel Emenike, all the best in his new soccer life. He will go down in the annals of the Super Eagles history, as one of the best and brightest strikers ever!

UP EMMANUEL EMENIKE! UP SUPER EAGLES!! UP NIGERIA!!!

Iseeeeeeeeeeh!!!!!!!

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