Tuesday, August 18, 2015 8:43 am
When the late Yemi Tella led a team of youngsters to South Korea to win the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, they gave Nigeria its third crown at the cadre tournament after previous wins in Japan 1993 and China 1985 championships.
Like previous junior teams, many Nigerians had high hope for these youngsters and hoped that someday they will form the core of the senior national team, the Super Eagles.
Encomiums and accolades were poured on the lads with many Nigerians agreeing that the bulk of the players should graduate to the U-20, U-23 after their exploits.
But unfortunately, none of the players, who should be between the ages of 22-24 (by 2015), are playing for the Super Eagles or for a major club.
Majority of them are plying their trade in the local league while some are playing abroad in obscure leagues. With the present whereabout of nine of the 21 players at the World Cup in 2007 unknown, TheNews Magazine researched the progress of others.
A check on their counterparts who featured in the 2007 U-17 World Cup revealed that some of the players are today performing very well for their countries and clubs.
Some of them include James Rodríguez of Columbia who is now playing for Real Madrid since 2014; Fábio Henrique Tavares of Brazil plays for AS Monaco; German midfielder Toni Kroos plays for Real Madrid. He was called to the senior team for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and was part of the team in Brazil 2014 World Cup.
TheNEWS Magazine findings revealed the progress of Tella’s squad to the Korea 2007 U-17 World Cup
Goalkeeper Laide Okanlawon
Featured briefly in the U-20 and U-23 Olympic team, Okanlawon failed to take his game to the zenith, but was seeing in and out of clubs in the domestic league in the country. Despite being highly regarded for several years, Okanlawon got limited playing time during the last three seasons. At Sharks FC, Okanlawon was second-choice goalkeeper behind Danladi Isah, featuring in only three games during the Nigeria Professional Football League 2014.
Striker Ganiyu Bolayi Oseni
The Osogbo, Osun State-born player is currently playing for Becamex Bình Duong in the V.League 1 in Vietnam. He had series of trials in North Africa after the 2007 feat. He also played for CSKA Moscow, Esperance in Tunis and since 2011 he had been in Vietnam. He featured briefly in the Nigeria U-23 All Africa Games qualifier in April 2011where he scored a brace in the 6-1 win over Liberia.
Defender Usman Amodu
The player recently played as defender for Llaneros F.C. in Colombia.
Nothing is heard of Balogun Since the World Cup in 2007.
Udoh failed to secure a deal with Spanish side Atlético Madrid in 2009 and failed missions at Olympiacos F.C. and Olympique Lyon in France. He also trained with Uruguayan team C.A. Peñarol but failed to sign a contract. Udoh was called into the Nigeria camp for the 2008 African Nations Cup but was cut from the final 23-man squad. He did however make his debut for the Super Eagles in the warm-up game with Sudan which Nigeria won 2-0. Nigeria’s manager Berti Vogts cited his inclusion as a way of gaining valuable experience. He has also played for the under-20 and Olympic Eagles.
After this sojourn, Udoh settled down in the local scene where he is currently playing for Sunshine Stars of Akure as a central defender.
The central defender’s career was cut short by a deadly car accident in 2009 on his way to the Nigeria U-20 camp
King Moses Osanga
Osanga was with the Nigeria national under-20 football team at 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt and was called up to the senior team for the first time in August 2010 for a friendly in South Korea.
In the 2013–2014 season he played for White Star Bruxelles in Belgian Second Division and currently with Shooting Stars Sports Club, 3SC, of Ibadan.
Kabiru Akinsola Olanrewaju
The forward had a brief stint with Étoile Sportive du Sahel in Tunisia. He played Spain’s UD Salamanca and appearing rarely over the course of two second division seasons. He also appeared in the colours of Cádiz CF, FC Cartagena and CE L’Hospitalet, this being interspersed by a brief spell in Cyprus, but currently with Sunshine Stars.
He is currently playing for AEK Athens. He played for different clubs such as Hamburg in 2007, Karlsruher SC in the 2009–10 season, Turkish Süper Lig side Sivasspor, Las Palmas in Spain.
On January 2015 Chrisantus signed with Greek Side AEK Athens FC on a 18 months deal with an option of a further two years based on performance. He also featured at the 2009 U-20 World cup held in Egypt.
Ibrahim is playing for Slovak club FK AS Trencín as an attacking midfielder. He had played for clubs such as Sporting Clube de Portugal, PSV, Celtic and Kilmarnock in Europe.
In late 2007, the youngster was included by World Soccer in its 50 Most Exciting Teen Footballers list and, in March of the following year, he was featured by InsideFutbol.com in an article on young African footballers alongside the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Mario Balotelli and John Obi Mikel. In January 2009, he made Goal.com’s list of 10 African Players to Watch, and The Times’ Football’s Top 50 Rising Stars.
He was included in the Nigerian senior team squad by German coach Berti Vogts for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, but a groin injury prevented him from participating in the tournament. Samson Siasia called him to his Super Eagles in November 2010. He had a rare success out of all his colleagues in the Yemi Tella’s Golden Eaglets.
He is playing for FC Olimpik Donetsk in the Ukrainian First League.
The Minna, Niger State- born player is currently with Niger Tornadoes F.C. He had also played for Helsingborgs IF in Sweden and AEK Larnaca. On 15 December 2008, he was called up to the Nigerian under-20 national team for the African Youth Championship at the Rwanda 2009 where he scored a goal against Egypt. On 3 March 2010 earned his first call-up to the Super Eagles.
Lukman Abdulkarim Haruna
Haruna is playing for FC Anzhi Makhachkala on loan from FC Dynamo Kyiv. He had been off and on in the Super Eagles.