Saturday 15 Jun 2024

After Sunday, Sunday looks for a break

AFP | FEBRUARY 16, 2013, 12:05 PM IST

Nigeria's unlikely hero in the final of the 2013 Africa Cupof Nations, Sunday Mba, has said he hopes he has done enough to earn a dreammove to Europe. In Johannesburg, last Sunday, the 24-year-old Warri Wolvesforward scored the goal that ended Nigeria's 19-year wait for a continentalglory as they won their third Nations Cup trophy at the expense of BurkinaFaso.

In the 1994 final in Tunisia, Emmanuel Amuneke came off thebench to fire two goals past Zambia and give the Super Eagles their secondNations Cup triumph after they first won the tournament on home soil in 1980.Amuneke, who was then playing for top Egyptian side Zamalek, would subsequentlymove to Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon and eventually Barcelona.

"I hope I can also get a deal in Europe after what Iachieved at the Nations Cup," said the former Nigeria U17 star, who wasalso the match winner against star-studded Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals ofthe competition. His exploits have already sparked off interest from top GermanBundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen.

In 2008, he was close to teaming up with Spanish lowerleague side Elche, but the deal collapsed after his local club, Enugu Rangers,demanded too much money. "A transfer abroad is the next step for hiscareer after his decisive goals capped a very decent tournament for him,"said Nigerian football agent Vincent Alumona, who was behind the player's moveto Spain five years ago.

"However, this could be tricky. The window in westernEurope is shut, but there are still opportunities in places like Ukraine andRussia. And that is where the dilemma for Mba lies. To move now or wait tillthe next window in Germany, Spain or France opens in July? "He will needgood advisers to make a decision about this. And whatever he chooses wouldsurely shape his career for the next two, three years."

What would a European club be getting if they sign Mba? Heis a skillful, hard working player who could play deep in midfield, as a secondstriker or even as the top striker. He shot to national prominence early lastyear when he scored twice for the Eagles in an international friendly inLiberia.

He took his chance in South Africa when the highly-ratedNosa Igiebor from La Liga outfit Real Betis struggled. The former Enyimba starwould go on to play a very deep role in the middle, using his big engine tograft for Chelsea star Mikel Obi and also having enough strength to moveforward to score his two tournament-defining goals.

But the only drawback for Mba is that at 24, he is a littletoo long in the tooth for a big breakthrough in Europe.

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