Nigerian duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Mikel Obi go head-to-head in the fifth round of the FA Cup as Chelsea slugs it out with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
Both Nigerians have been in fantastic form for their respective clubs and it will be interesting to see who gets better of the other. Chelsea manager, Guus Hiddink trusts Mikel Obi and has made him the midfield anchor at Stamford Bridge.
He will have the task of stopping Manchester City’s midfield from supplying passes for the in-form Iheancho who has proved that he can score goals and ready for the huge responsibility that comes with playing for a big club even if it’s the 19-year-old’s debut season with the first team.
The youngster has averaged a goal in every 70 minutes in all competitions for Manchester City, scoring nine in 628 minutes, absolutely remarkable for a play who couldn’t afford N50 a watch a match at the viewing center some years back.
One major flaw in Iheanacho’s game is that he doesn’t get too involved with the general play which will definitely improve with experience but he has proven beyond reasonable doubt that he can be of great impact whenever given the nod to play.
Obviously, Kelechi’s family back home are happy with his achievements so far especially with the opportunity given to him to line-up with Sergio ‘kun’ Aguero, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Joe Hart, Fernandinho, Samir Nasri, and Pablo Zabaleta but they are more likely to frame and cherish the picture of the former U-17 World Cup MVP with compatriot Mikel than any of the names previously mentioned.
The reason is because Mikel is a huge icon in Nigeria – a player that has played close to 11years for the various national teams and helped Nigeria to the 2013 African Cup of Nations triumph.
Tactically, Mikel is the most matured in his position and that has seen him survive multiple managers at Stamford Bridge. His calm presence will again be key as Guus Hiddink looks to continue his unbeaten run in the FA Cup which he won in 2009 in his first spell in charge of Chelsea.
However, both players draw alot of similarities in their foundation as attacking midfielders, oops! Yeah, I know what you are thinking – Mikel? Yes he was a very attack minded player back in Norway where he played for Lyn Oslo and also did so masterfully at the 2005 U-20 World Cup where he emerged first runner up to Lionel Messi as the tournaments best player.
So, what happened!? He was converted to a defensive midfielder at Chelsea by former manager Jose Mourinho but that has kept him in Chelsea and today he is one of the most important players in the team.
At Stamford Bridge today, when Iheanacho steps out he will be referred as the young Manchester City forward but he has always played as an attacking midfielder.
His early football education with the Nigerian U-17 team where he trained for two years, he played as the number ten and when he assisted seven goals, scoring six at the World Cup it was from that position.
He is special and blessed with a left foot and will cause Tim Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic headache today with his movements and great decision making with the right pass at all times.
But will he have a free reign against the Chelsea backline or will Mikel have something to say about that? Stay with us as we bring you today’s drama at Stamford Bridge. We look forward to a great match up. Hope you do too.