Rashidi Yekini’s legendary status as the most potent and prolific goal machine in the history of the national team is surely not in doubt. The Kwara-state born-football player remains a household name to be reckoned with in the annals of soccer in the nation. The search for Rashidi Yekini’s heir has continued for over 20 years with no tangible result in sight. Who will fill the big gap left behind by Nigeria’s king of goals? This is a conundrum yet to be unpuzzled. No one knows whose feet will fit suitably into the boots left by Confederation of Africa (CAF) player of the year (1993). Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Rashidi Yekini is seen here celebrating his goal against Bulgaria at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA. The goal made him the first Nigerian to score in the senior FIFA tournament in which Nigeria won 3-0 Rashidi Yekini lived between October 23, 1963 to May 4, 2012. He might have died mysteriously, but his football story is what all aspiring Nigerian strikers should borrow a leaf from in order for them to get to the pinnacle of their career. The exploits of Yekini in front of goal keepers from his first African Cup of Nations in Morocco in 1988 to his last tournament in Tunisia in 1994 is worth remembering. A good number of goal tenders saw him as a very bad customer whom they wish does not come face to face with them.
1. The poor quality of strikers in the last 20 years The likes of Obafemi Martins, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Ikechukwu Uche, Kanu Nwankwo, Victor Ikpeba, Raphel Chukwu Ndukwe, Michael Eneramo, Osaze Odewimghe, Victor Igali, Julius Aghahowa and the other retired Super Eagles strikers not mentioned here initially showed some flashes of scoring goals for fun not until their football playing career took a nose dive.
They all came, saw but never conquered. This goal drought has continued for years without a solution in sight. Some of these football players mentioned above bragged when they initially came to limelight that they will surpass Rashidi Yekini’s goal record, but they falter and fell before they got to half-way their national team career. Since Yekini left the scene and died, the national team has been using on and off strikers who even find it difficult to play second fiddle in the respective foreign professional leagues they ply their trade. Some of these players hardly get up to 10 minutes of playing time while some are perpetual unused substitutes.
current players like Odion Ighalo and Ahmed Musa have been showing glimpses of the potentials in them. However, time will tell if Ighalo and their ilks will live up to the expectations of Nigerian football fans.
2. Low spirit of patriotism During Yekini’s time, the spirit and passion of playing for the Super Eagles was very high. Every national team player was happy when he adorned the Green-White-Green colours of the senior team and rendered the national anthem. The zeal then was next to none. Looking at the present set up of the team under Coach Sunday Oliseh, there are some players who drag their feet before they join the team in camp ahead of important international friendlies or vital qualifying matches. This was also the case under former national team handler, Stephen Keshi and some of Keshi’s predecessors.
3. Inconsistency on the parts of players One Nigerian player whose national football playing career was short-lived is Emmanuel Emenike. Emenike started on a good note especially during the 2013 African Cup of Nations in South Africa which Nigeria won. Despite Emenike’s injury after the four nil bashing of Mali at the semi-final stage of the tournament, Emenike still emerged as the highest scorer in that competition with four goals. Soccer loving Nigerians then saw the bulky Emenike as the new lanky Yekini. It was not until the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brasil that the former Fernabache of Turkey striker started to womble and fumble. Emenike failed to score a single goal at the global event. A trend which continued in as many games with the Super Eagles before he called it a day from international football after he fell out with Coach Sunday Oliseh. Since Yekini left the stage for the upcoming and young strikers about 15 years ago, Nigeria has had more than 13 different strikers. It is more of a striker playing at most 5 years for the Super Eagles before he goes into oblivion.
4. Frequent rift between strikers and coaches Why did some former Nigerian strikers retire early? It was nothing more than a lack of communication between these players and the people who manage the Super Eagles. The problem of misunderstanding between a striker and a coach is endemic in Nigerian football. Some examples of player-coach rift include those of Obafemi Martins and Stephen Keshi, Emmanuel Emenike and Sunday Oliseh among others. It should also be noted that this problem has been a recurring decimal which has made the former Victoria of Setubal striker’s record yet to be equalled not to talk of being surpassed. 5. Wrong selection due to monetary inducement There are constant allegations that some national team coaches sacrifice merit for mediocrity all in the name of money. An allegation of this type was rife during the coaching career of Amodu Shuaibu. The former BCC Lions of Gboko coach was alleged to have always included Yakubu Aiyegbeni in his squad even when he was not playing well because the player often settled him monetarily. This allegation of bribe was not limited to only Amodu Shuaibu, but almost all the national team coaches.
5 reasons no Super Eagles player has broken Rashidi Yekini's goal scoring record Reviewed by Link Naija on 07:11 Rating: