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No Creative Players In West Africa? by davidif(m): 3:45am On Jun 02, 2010
West African nations continue to struggle to find skillful playmakers

Two decades ago, the general characterization of African football was that it was too undisciplined. Africa could produce great, powerful forwards and skillful midfielders, but it was let down by defensive inadequacies. The stereotype has proved hard to shift, but if it was ever true, African football left it far behind a long time ago.

The powerful forwards still exist, and they have been joined by great driving holding midfielders and defenders. In North Africa, there are skillful creators -- Egypt has Mohamed Aboutrika and Mohamed Barakat; Algeria has Karim Ziani; Morocco's Adel Taraabt shows great promise -- but in West Africa there is nothing. Even Ivory Coast, with its so-called "golden generation" of players, has lacked real flair.

A key figure in the French club Marseille of the early '90s was the Ghanaian Abedi Pele, a creator who won the man of the match award in the 1993 Champions League final. At the Cup of Nations in 1996, the Ghana side featured him and Ni'i Lamptey, a young and clever deep-lying forward whom Brazil's Pele hailed as the closest thing he had seen to himself. Lamptey's career was ruined by injury and personal tragedy, Abedi Pele retired aged 36 in 2000, and the wait goes on for a player of their type to emerge again.

Abedi Pele blames the pace of the modern game. "If you look at Kaka, he is technically very good, maybe the same talent as [Nigeria's Jay-Jay] Okocha," he said. "But if you look at Okocha, he didn't counterattack. He didn't run very fast. Kaka is somebody who takes the ball on the run. It's a different style of football.

"I would say the more efficient way today is like the Brazilians are playing. They slow the game from the defense, and when they get to the midfield they start passing it very fast. And when the ball gets to Kaka or Robinho, the speed comes from there. Today is a different kind of football."

Which is true, but that doesn't explain why terrific creative players continue to be produced in South America and Europe while the African flow has dried up.

The Nigeria side that won gold at the 1996 Olympics and impressed at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups was a gloriously attacking, inventive team that, with Kanu and Okocha, featured not one but two players who in another age might have been out-and-out playmakers. Okocha retired two years ago at 35, while Kanu struggles on as a 33-year-old who looks a lot older (whatever the truth of the speculation over his "real" age, the fact is that over the past year he has played a full game just three times, two of them in the final month of the season when Portsmouth's financial situation meant it couldn't even fill its bench). There is nobody beyond Kanu, and such is the dearth of creativity in Nigerian football that there was even semi-serious talk of Okocha's coming out of retirement for one last shot at the World Cup this summer.

Okocha suggests the issue is one of evolution, that African football, by trying to introduce the rigor of the European game, has come to overlook some of the things that elevated it in the first place.

"I see that African football is heading away from flair and more toward the team," he said. "Football has changed over the years and there aren't really any playmakers anymore. It's more about tactical work. I see African countries playing more like European ones. That's the only way to become competitive. It's a pity it's at the expense of flair, because fans want to enjoy their money and see good football. If you could combine the flair with goals it would be great."

Again, the obvious rejoinder is that other areas of the world seem to manage the balance.

Perhaps the issue is simply evolutionary, but Tom Vernon, Manchester United's scout in Africa, who runs an academy in the hills above the Ghanaian capital Accra, suggests the problem is partly economic. Given the lack of money available in domestic West African football, a natural stage in any player's career is to move -- as soon as possible -- to a European club. That dynamic of player development is different in Africa than elsewhere. Although most top South American players end up in Europe at some stage, it is possible to have a perfectly good career without leaving, and the players who do move tend to do so later, when they are fully formed, than West African players.

European clubs, Vernon says, have become fixated on a particular type of player -- what he calls "the Papa Bouba Diop template." They have seen the success of the likes of Diop, Michael Essien and Mahamadou Diarra and instinctively look for similarly forceful holding players. That sort of talent moves to Europe early and gets the best coaching, making him most likely to develop into a top player.

Exacerbating the problem is the lack of width in the West African game -- has there ever been a great West African winger? -- something Vernon attributes to the conditions in which most children there learn the game.

"They have a pitch maybe 20 or 30 yards long, and set up two stones a couple of feet apart at either end, often with gutters or ditches marking the boundaries at the sides," he said. "So it's a tiny area. The game becomes all about receiving the ball, turning and driving through the middle."

And so the Papa Bouba Diop template is perpetuated, and Nigeria ends up fielding a central midfield of Yusuf Ayila, Dickson Etuhu and Mikel John Obi, not because it particularly wants to play defensively, but because it has nobody else.

What is needed to break the pattern is an outstanding creative player who will persuade European clubs that it is worth investing beyond the preconception. It is a terrible burden to place on a 21-year-old, but there are signs that Udinese forward Kwadwo Asamoah, who impressed for Ghana as it won the U-20 World Cup last year and then again in the Cup of Nations in January, could be Abedi Pele's heir. Ghana and West Africa need him to be; they need at least part of the old stereotype to become true again.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/soccer/world-cup-2010/writers/jonathan_wilson/05/29/africa.playmakers/index.html#ixzz0peys0XFv
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by davidif(m): 3:47am On Jun 02, 2010
Very very interesting article.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by 12large: 4:48am On Jun 02, 2010
awest african teams might lack creative midfilders, but certainly not nigeria. we have
stanley okoro,haruna lukman,rabiu ibrahim and emmanuel ekpo all these midfilders are skillfull ball jugglers except lukman, so nigeria is not lacking in that department the problem for us is that we have a useless coach that always believe in old players. imagine how better nigeria would have been if kanu and utaka was dropped for okoro and ibrahim
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by Osama10(m): 5:38am On Jun 02, 2010
Who says there are none, the only problem is politics and we all know how they do their selection.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by davidif(m): 6:29am On Jun 02, 2010
12large:

awest african teams might lack creative midfilders, but certainly not nigeria. we have
stanley okoro,haruna lukman,rabiu ibrahim and emmanuel ekpo all these midfilders are skillfull ball jugglers except lukman, so nigeria is not lacking in that department the problem for us is that we have a useless coach that always believe in old players. imagine how better nigeria would have been if kanu and utaka was dropped for okoro and ibrahim

Jugglers?!?!?! since when did juggling have anything to do with creativity. What about creating something out of nothing like Ronaldinho? Haven't you watched Wesley Sneijder play? or Francesc Fabregas are these guys "jugglers"?. If you want to go back in time, why not watch Zidane and how he is able to split defenses with his pass.

Football is not all about dribbling or else Denilson would have been the greatest player ever.

I also like the fact that it highlighted the fact that Africa has never had a great winger.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by Jarus(m): 9:06am On Jun 02, 2010
12large:

awest african teams might lack creative midfilders, but certainly not nigeria. we have
stanley okoro,haruna lukman,rabiu ibrahim and emmanuel ekpo all these midfilders are skillfull ball jugglers except lukman, so nigeria is not lacking in that department the problem for us is that we have a useless coach that always believe in old players. imagine how better nigeria would have been if kanu and utaka was dropped for okoro and ibrahim

Creative players my foot. These are not the type of creative midfielders the writer was referring to. We are talking about JJ, Abedi Pele and you are mentioning Lukman Haruna, Okoro, Ekpo. Rabiu that cannot break into Sporting Lisbon team after about 2 seasons or Ekpo that is stucked in MLS. Imagine parading Okoro and Rabiu against Macherano & Veron.

These are not the type of creative midfielders the writer was talking about jare.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by davidif(m): 9:29am On Jun 02, 2010
Jarus:

Creative players my foot. These are not the type of creative midfielders the writer was referring to. We are talking about JJ, Abedi Pele and you are mentioning Lukman Haruna, Okoro, Ekpo. Rabiu that cannot break into Sporting Lisbon team after about 2 seasons or Ekpo that is stucked in MLS. Imagine parading Okoro and Rabiu against Macherano & Veron.

These are not the type of creative midfielders the writer was talking about jare.

O ri e pe jare. But i didn't know that Ekpo is in MLS. omo naija get talent ooooo grin chai what a shame. What country that wants to be taken seriously would have players in the MLS.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by medjai(m): 9:41am On Jun 02, 2010
The problem is not just with W Africa, its in the game as a whole. Football now is more about efficiency. Coaches just want to win games. Even Brazil that is known for producing extremely creative players have adopted a less creative but efficient pattern of play under Dunga. There's no place for extremely creative players any more. Thats why Quaresma could not make it at Inter. Robinho could not at City. Coaches want someone that will run with the ball and square it. No much need for skills.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by 12large: 10:02am On Jun 02, 2010
davidif it does not matter where you play for but how good are you. i have seen ekpo dribble 6 players at a time in a game, i don't watch him anymore but that guy use to be skilfull as hell. afterall a useless player like john obi mikel have played for chelsea out of his four seasons in chelsea 3 of them the guy did not have 1 shot on target or goal
jarus please stay with those useless ghianian midgets at ghanaweb.com
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by honeric01(m): 1:55pm On Jun 02, 2010
@12large

Respect yourself and stop insulting other users!
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by davidif(m): 5:16am On Jun 03, 2010
12large,
What i am saying is that creativity in football is not all about dribbling.

medjai:

The problem is not just with W Africa, its in the game as a whole. Football now is more about efficiency. Coaches just want to win games. Even Brazil that is known for producing extremely creative players have adopted a less creative but efficient pattern of play under Dunga. There's no place for extremely creative players any more. Thats why Quaresma could not make it at Inter. Robinho could not at City. Coaches want someone that will run with the ball and square it. No much need for skills.

You are sooooooo right. Football is now about pragmatism and not idealism anymore.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by ow11(m): 1:02pm On Jun 03, 2010
Kwadwo Asamoah is one contender. I would like to think Seydou Keita played something like that at the AFCON.

Seriously, 'monkey post' has ruined our football and if that is fixed today, it will take another 10 years to get to the dizzy heights of 1994.

All schools with no big pitches should be closed!
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by davidif(m): 8:43pm On Jun 03, 2010
ow11:

Kwadwo Asamoah is one contender. I would like to think Seydou Keita played something like that at the AFCON.

Seriously, 'monkey post' has ruined our football and if that is fixed today, it will take another 10 years to get to the dizzy heights of 1994.

All schools with no big pitches should be closed!

On the contrary, i don't think monkey post has ruined football. "Monkey post" helps develop children with skills at a small age. The best way to develop and learn skills are in uncontrolled settings in tight (small) spaces or pitches. The reason why brazillians are so skillful is because they play on the beach and they play futsal. The reason why the Americans and the English are not skillful is because they play on full sized pitches at an extremely young age and instead of learning creativity, theyare are being taught tatics so they are not able to develop those improvisational skills.
Its at age fifteen and above that kids should be given the experience of playing on a standard pitch and the skills that come with it like heading and wing play. Its no co-incidence that we have never had a winger like Beckham.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by dayokanu(m): 9:35pm On Jun 03, 2010
Its no co-incidence that we have never had a winger like Beckham.

Finidi was better
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by davidif(m): 10:52pm On Jun 03, 2010
Finidi was better

At doing what? dribbling and running, well maybe? but crossing? lai lai and that my friend is how wingers are judged, if not pius ikedia would have been the greatest winger ever. If finidi was so good, how come i didn't see him playing for the likes of Madrid, Milan or Man. U? instead he played in a mid table spanish team like Betis. Heck, the dutch league is not considered as a top league in Europe and while his colleagues were heading off to greener pastures like Madrid and Milan, your boy ended up in Betis of all places.

By the way, did you even read the article in the first place?
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by dayokanu(m): 11:38pm On Jun 03, 2010
At doing what? dribbling and running, well maybe? but crossing? lai lai and that my friend is how wingers are judged, if not pius ikedia would have been the greatest winger ever. If finidi was so good, how come i didn't see him playing for the likes of Madrid, Milan or Man. U? instead he played in a mid table spanish team like Betis. Heck, the dutch league is not considered as a top league in Europe and while his colleagues were heading off to greener pastures like Madrid and Milan, your boy ended up in Betis of all places.


Its the English press that praised Beckhams ability over the roof. WHo jugde wingers by crosses

Wingers are supposed to dribble and run creating space and openings for their strikers. Check Luis Figo, Steve McManaman, Finidi, Lennon, Overmars, Does Robben cross? Ribery nko?. If its by crossing Valencia should be the best winger in the world

In Finidis time Man Utd was a lower ranked team.
Can you also say that if Totti was so good how come I didnt see him play for Milan and Madrid,
If Torres was that good how come I dont see him playing for Milan and Madrid.
if gerrard was so good How come he never played for Milan, Madrid or Man Utd

Beckham only played for these clubs because of his commercial appeal and not for anything else. No wonder they shuttle him between Galaxy and AC Milan
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by jalether(m): 12:48am On Jun 04, 2010
dayokanu:



Its the English press that praised Beckhams ability over the roof. WHo jugde wingers by crosses

Wingers are supposed to dribble and run creating space and openings for their strikers. Check Luis Figo, Steve McManaman, Finidi, Lennon, Overmars, Does Robben cross? Ribery nko?. If its by crossing Valencia should be the best winger in the world

In Finidis time Man Utd was a lower ranked team.
Can you also say that if Totti was so good how come I didnt see him play for Milan and Madrid,
If Torres was that good how come I dont see him playing for Milan and Madrid.
if gerrard was so good How come he never played for Milan, Madrid or Man Utd

Beckham only played for these clubs because of his commercial appeal and not for anything else. No wonder they shuttle him between Galaxy and AC Milan

Excellent post, you dey mind davidf. Bechkam has to go down as one of the most overrated players/wingers in the last 30 years.

being a great winger is certainly not all about crossing, other attributes are involved.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by safex101: 1:55am On Jun 04, 2010
dayokanu:



Its the English press that praised Beckhams ability over the roof. WHo jugde wingers by crosses

Wingers are supposed to dribble and run creating space and openings for their strikers. Check Luis Figo, Steve McManaman, Finidi, Lennon, Overmars, Does Robben cross? Ribery nko?. If its by crossing Valencia should be the best winger in the world

In Finidis time Man Utd was a lower ranked team.
Can you also say that if Totti was so good how come I didnt see him play for Milan and Madrid,
If Torres was that good how come I dont see him playing for Milan and Madrid.
if gerrard was so good How come he never played for Milan, Madrid or Man Utd

Beckham only played for these clubs because of his commercial appeal and not for anything else. No wonder they shuttle him between Galaxy and AC Milan

Yap Beckham is the most overrated player in football history no doubt but he was good at what he does then. And as for wingers,we have the modern and traditional form of wingers, the names you mentioned are all what is called the inside-out wingers (the modern wingers) and they are everywhere  because of the formation coaches now play, which is now 4-2-3-1,4-3-3 . When football was introduce,the winger became a wide midfielder, a shuttler, somebody who might be expected to cross a ball but was also meant to put in a defensive shift. Valencia is an example of a traditional winger and Beckham, winger like these are scarce now. I read an article about the Death of the traditional winger you can check the thread on the forum of goal.com.

On your second point about Man Utd a lower ranked team during findi is grossly incorrect. And for Torres and Gerrard not playing for the MMM ,they are playing in one of the biggest club in Europe and also in England.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by dayokanu(m): 3:02am On Jun 04, 2010
Wingers are supposed to be the trickiest and fastest players in the team. Beckham had none of this. Giggs was even a better winger in Man Utd.

Yap Beckham is the most overrated player in football history no doubt but he was good at what he does then.

What is he best at? Posing for magazines?

On your second point about Man Utd a lower ranked team during findi is grossly incorrect.

During Finidis peak between 1992 and 1998 Man Utd was not a team to be reckoned with at all in Europe. In that time they only played one CL semi finals which they lost home and away to Borrousia Dortmund.

In fact the whole EPL was more like Gabonese league in those times. Then Ajax, Bayern Munich, Borrousia Dortmund, Juventus, Barcelona, Ajax AM Milan and Inter Milan was better rated than any English club.


And for Torres and Gerrard not playing for the MMM ,they are playing in one of the biggest club in Europe and also in England.

What makes Liverpool that has not won the local league one of the biggest in Europe If I may ask.

Finidi was playing for Ajax at that time so he was playing for the top team in EUrope. In those days going to EPL was for players ready to retire e.g Deschamps, Blanc, Zola, Weah, Casiraghi, Dessaily, Klinsman, Ginola, Lombardo, Suker etc
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by safex101: 3:18am On Jun 04, 2010
dayokanu:


What is he best at? Posing for magazines?


What was it good at? uhmm, bend it like Beckham, at set pieces and crosses he was best, but still yes he was overrated no doubt.

dayokanu:

Wingers are supposed to be the trickiest and fastest players in the team. Beckham had none of this. Giggs was even a better winger in Man Utd.


What wingers was traditional suppose to do was cross and also support the full back. This is to give the team width to make it difficult for teams to defend. Wingers are suppose to be wide midfielder.


dayokanu:


What makes Liverpool that has not won the local league one of the biggest in Europe If I may ask.


Liverpool has not won local league? they are on 18 with United
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by 12large: 3:43am On Jun 04, 2010
look at the comparing finidi to becham, what kind of insult is that, that is typical nigeria mentality very low.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by safex101: 3:48am On Jun 04, 2010
12large:

look at the comparing finidi to becham, what kind of insult is that, that is typical nigeria mentality very low.

Though you are not referring to me,but there are more than 700x77 better ways to get your message across without insult.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by dayokanu(m): 5:04am On Jun 04, 2010
What was it good at? uhmm, bend it like Beckham, at set pieces and crosses he was best, but still yes he was overrated no doubt.

Set pieces? Thats what the English media made you to believe.

At Freekicks Mihajlovic, Rivaldo, Juninho, Ronaldinho were all better and these are guys in his generation taking it a lil back, Koeman, Hassler and Stoichkov were all far better

What wingers was traditional suppose to do was cross and also support the full back. This is to give the team width to make it difficult for teams to defend. Wingers are suppose to be wide midfielder.

Who defined the role for traditional and modern wingers? IMO Finidi delivers a better cross

Liverpool has not won local league? they are on 18 with United

The last time Liverpool won their leagues you were 20yrs younger at least.

Liverpool is not a big team in Europe
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by davidif(m): 5:44am On Jun 04, 2010
12large:

look at the comparing finidi to becham, what kind of insult is that, that is typical nigeria mentality very low.

You have to understand that it is very difficult for Nigerians to be objective when it comes to there own. The guy mentioned Totti, Totti got several (i mean several) offers to leave Roma but just like Maldini he stayed with his club no matter what. The guy also talked about Man. U being irrelevant from 1992-1998, well if he can call winning the premier league 5 times, winning the FA cup 4 times and even winning the UEFA cup winners cup trophy then i guess Man. Utd was very irrelevant, but hey what do you expect from someone who calls Lennon an elite winger. The players he even mentioned that did not play for Milan and co. were highly sought out by them. Even right as we speak Mourinho wants to bring Gerrard over to Madrid. I also don't even know when the dutch league was even considered as better than the English league. The English league dominated european football in the 70's and 80's (specifically Liverpool) until UEFA banned them for fan violence so its not as if the English league just got better. If the dutch league was so good why did all those Ajax players flee to greener pastures in other leagues? Luis Figo, Overmars were not only pacy and creative players but have very accurate crosses, if this guys could not cross, they definitely wouldn't be playing for this teams.
Steve McManaman was never elite winger, he was a decent one who could dribble and so forth but that was it and Ribery and Robben, even though both are known for being speedy can also cross, if they couldn't they would not be playing at this level. But my guy, like i said there is no point arguing with Nigeriansas they think being able to dribble makes you a "great" player.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by medjai(m): 6:47am On Jun 04, 2010
^^^From the early 90's through the mid and up till the late 90's, the English league was not recognized as one of the top leagues in Europe. The major leagues in Europe during this period were the Serie A, Eredivisie, Bundesliga and the La Liga. Ajax appeared in two successive champions league in 95 and 96, winning in it 95.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by dayokanu(m): 3:57pm On Jun 04, 2010
Any club winning the EPL is just like winning the Scottish league in the days of Finidi.

I am sure people would also ask why he didnt go to Celtic who won lots of league titlles
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by chidichris(m): 9:19am On Jun 05, 2010
davidif it does not matter where you play for but how good are you. i have seen ekpo dribble 6 players at a time in a game, i don't watch him anymore but that guy use to be skilfull as hell. afterall a useless player like john obi mikel have played for chelsea out of his four seasons in chelsea 3 of them the guy did not have 1 shot on target or goal
jarus please stay with those useless ghianian midgets at ghanaweb.com

look at the comparing finidi to becham, what kind of insult is that, that is typical nigeria mentality very low.

@12large,
ur problem is that your body is willing but ur soul is weak. u like football but u lack information.
mikel has scored 2 goals in chelsea.
u always insult ppl here because u do not have any relevant information to pass.
creativity is neither ball juggling nor dribbling 32 players at a go but creativity is always about having objectives while u are with the ball.
making out things out of nothing situations.
jj at the begining of his carrier was a great dribbler but enjoyed more time on the bench and if there is anyone arround here who followed the eagles in us94, he will bear me witness.
okocha was capable of dribbling the whole team and at the end of the day, looses the ball to the oponents who will punish his team without delays.
it was at the middle and ending of okocha's carrier that he becomes ambitious that his usual 20ft above the bars came down to form goals and his passes became killer insticts with lesser entertainments.
history in soccer depends mainly on who win at the end of the day and not who plays the leather round the picth in ball possession.
ur campeign for stanley okoro and his likes will soon become realistic and we will be here to watch them so no need rushing them into the team.
the era of dribbling from post to post is gone and soccer is a team work hence 11 aside.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by davidif(m): 12:35pm On Jun 05, 2010
chidichris,
Don't mind them jare. Arguing with most Nigerians is futile. I remember arguing with some guy named sagamite who said that Shuaibu Amodu was just as good as Guus Hiddink and Pep Guardiola and that the reason why he is not coaching a big team like Barca is because he is from Nigeria. You can't win those kind of arguement because people like that just argue for arguement sake.
Because Mikel doesn't dribble then all of a sudden he is a useless player. Xavi is considered the best no. 10 in the world right now but this guy's skills are nothing compared to Okocha. Xavi never loses possession of the football and his vision and accuracy is absolutely incredible.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by ayusco: 1:11pm On Jun 05, 2010
who's comparing finidi to beckham? jesus wept finidi who could run with the ball, dribble and cross( yes cross watch 1998 wc naija build up for the goal against denmark guess who crossed) finidi in his prime was part of an ajax team that taught gr8t teams like real madrid, ac milan football lessons in da CL

@ topic i think d pace of the modern game has hampered d development of creative mds in nig case i think we'v had pontentials like oruma, ekpo n lately rabiu ibrahim but no one hass stepped up his game
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by dayokanu(m): 5:28am On Jun 06, 2010
David Beckham is grossly overrated. One of the worst wingers the game has produced
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by JIY: 9:01am On Jun 07, 2010
has there ever been a great West African winger? -- something Vernon attributes to the conditions in which most children there learn the game.


A very interesting article! As to the question, yes, there have been. I must agree with others on the forum regarding Finidi George. He was a great winger, way up with the best of them. And what about Emmanuel Amunike? Surely, he must be ranked among the best. Then there is Tijani Babangida, who was also very effective in his prime.

As to midfielders: Amokachi must come to mind as an attacking midfielder though some might think of him more of a forward. What about Oliseh?

I guess, this debate depends on perspective. We should remember though that in the 90's Nigerian players were among the best in the world. I do not think there  should be much debate about that. The situation today is different however. Even Nigerians should admit that.
Re: No Creative Players In West Africa? by marutimon: 10:17am On Jun 07, 2010
I'm sorry, but there was a time when George Finidi was generally held as one of the best, if not the best, wingers in the world. I remember back in the day Eurosport had this series where football experts around Europe chose the best players in certain positions and Finidi had a landslide victory as a winger.

Anyone stating that Finidi was not one of the greatest wingers of his time just doesn't know anything.,

I must admit that this Nigeria team is very lacklustre in comparison not only with the Nigeria team of the 90s but also in comparison with other African teams going to the World Cup. With all respect to Lukman Haruna - Haruna is probably going to be Nigeria's key player, now please compare him to Okocha, Finidi, Amunike, Oliseh and others, or Kwadwo Asamoah, Alex Song, Achille Emana, Yaya Toure, Didier Zokora, Karim Ziani or Steven Pienaar from other African sides.

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