Thursday, June 12, 2014

NPFL's Fantastic Four in Brazil

When the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Brazil on June 12, 736 footballers will take the centre from 32 countries including Nigeria. The players are attached to different clubs across the globe.
England top the player representation by league system with 110 of the footballers billed to take part at Brazil 2014 playing for clubs in the English top flight while Italy and Germany have 83 and 77 players from their leagues respectively.

Only Russia have all of their 23 players selected from their league system for this World Cup. However, the Nigeria Professional Football League, otherwise known as the Glo Premier League, is not left out of this head count as Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi picked four players from the top division in the country to join the 23-man squad.

Chigozie Agbim
Date of birth: 28 November 1984
Position: Goalkeeper
Club: Gombe United
Number: 21

He is the third-choice of the Nigeria squad to the World Cup behind Vincent Enyeama and Austin Ejide. The 29-year-old shot-stopper is highly regarded by Keshi and has figured in the plans of the coach.

Agbim was in goal through the 2014 CHAN in South Africa, where Nigeria finished third. He also captained the team during that championship. The goalkeeper made his international debut against Angola in an international friendly in January 2012. He was a squad member to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Azubuike Egwuekwe
Date of birth: 16 July 1989
Position: Defender
Club: Warri Wolves
Jersey number: 6

He is one of the tallest players in the Nigeria squad to this World Cup. The 24-year-old is strong in aerial challenge and will wear number 6 for the Super Eagles at the World Cup.

The big defender is one of the influential players at the home front and showed how good he is at the 2014 CHAN by helping Nigeria to finish in third position. Egwuekwe was part of the squad to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, where he featured in one game against world champions, Spain, as a substitute. He made his international debut in 2012 and has gone on to appear in more than 20 matches for the Super Eagles since then.

Kunle Odunlami
Date of birth: 5 March 1990
Position: Defender
Club: Sunshine Stars
Jersey number: 12

Odunlami was the standout player in defence for the Super Eagles at the 2014 CHAN and at the end of that tournament, he was named among the tournament's best eleven. The defensive qualities of Odunlami has not gone unnoticed as Keshi rewarded him with a place in the team to Brazil.

The former First Bank FC defender has already shown his versatility on the pitch by playing at right-back, outside of his natural centre-back position in the recent warm-up match against Greece. Odunlami has 11 international caps.

Ejike Uzoenyi
Date of birth 23 March 1988
Position: Attacking Winger
Club: Rangers International FC
Jersey number: 3

Interestingly Uzoenyi will wear the number 3 jersey at the World Cup due to no fault of his but by a stroke of fate. The petite winger was initially dropped from the squad but recalled on the eve of the World Cup to replace injured Elderson Echiejile. Pundits and fans regard Uzoenyi as a talented player capable of unlocking defences in a split second as he did at the CHAN earlier this year when he was named MVP of the tournament.

Uzoenyi, who is reportedly said to be heading to PSL club, Mamelodi Sundowns after the World Cup, has 21 caps under his belt and will hope to feature at the biggest stage to prove he has the qualities to shine among the big boys.

Culled from

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