By Patrick Omorodion
Despite the feelings of mostÂ Â Nigerian soccer fans and ex footballers like Adokie Amiesimaka that the midfield of the Super Eagles lacks a solid midfielder in the mould of Austin Okocha to hold on to the ball and make passes to the attackers, former Super Eagles forward, Victor Nosa Ikpeba thinks otherwise.
When the Super Eagles hosted the Harambee Stars of Kenya at the Abuja National Stadium as well as their 0-0 away draw with the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in Tunis, midfielder, Seyi George Olofinjana was a suspect as he made wrong passes and was jittery in most part of both matches.
At the Abuja Stadium, there were cat calls on the Chief Coach Shaibu Amodu to replace Olofinjana as he made the Kenyans terrorise the Eagles on end as his passes most often timesÂ failed to get to his team-mates.
However, Ikpeba, a formidable member of the Eagles in the late 90s has come out to back Olofinjana, describing him as one of Nigeriaâ€™s best midfielders of the moment who is not only a workaholic but can play for 90 minutes at full steam.
Speaking during an edition of the 2010 World Cup Countdown packaged by Brila Sports Exposures on AIT Network, Ikpeba, known as the Prince of Monaco during his playing days in France with FC Monaco, said Coach Amodu was doing the right thing by leaving the Stoke City player on the pitch throughout the duration of matches.
According to Ikpeba, â€œOlofinjana can play. Olofinjana has shown that he can play and I believe Shaibu Amodu has been doing the right thing to make sure that he is using the best players.
â€œOlofinjana is one of the best in the midfield. He has the height, he is strong and he has good passes. He is a workaholic player. So, itâ€™s a question of opinion.â€
Olofinjana himselfÂ had come out in self defence after he was heavily criticised for â€˜causing fans heartacheâ€™ during the Eagles-Kenya match last June that he does not hold on to the ball because in the English Premiership were he plays, midfielders are known for their one-touch passes and have no time for dressing the ball nor playing to the gallery.
It could be recalled that based on Olofinjanaâ€™s displays in the last two World Cup qualifiers against Kenya and Tunisia, Amiesimaka began the debate for the recall of Austin Okocha into the Eagles squad for the 2010 World Cup if Nigeria was to make any impact at the Mundial to be hosted on African soil for the first time ever.