Captain of Champions: Musa Muhammed Produce ‘Fireworks’ for Flying Eagles of Nigeria | Next, FIFA U20 World Cup In Zealand

 For me, Musa Muhammed was easily the Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the just concluded Africa U20 championship in Senegal. And that didn’t take away anything from players like Taiwo Awoniyi, Akinjide Idowu, Izuchukwu Omego, Ifeanyi Mathew or his ‘running mate’ Mustapha Abdullah. The Flying Eagles Captain produced such a stunning five star performance; running the right flank with so much speed and stamina – a work rate that could make anyone suspect he might be on drug.

Indeed, no team could contain the Nigerian side at the championship, not even when it was down with ten men. While Muhammed ran thru and fro length of the right side with such speed and tenacity, Abdullah was equally producing almost the same ‘firework’ from the left. From the opponent point of view, it looked like the Flying Eagles had more players on the pitch – 13 against 11.

 You can’t tell if Muhammed was a defender or an attacker. While he was the main strength of the defense line, he was equally the one who started most of the attack and made deft crosses from the right flank.

The Nigerian team played a peculiar pattern, 5-4-1, which allowed only Awoniyi upfront; played 2 stoppers and a last man at the central defense, while Muhammed and Abdullah ran the flanks from defense to midfield and attack simultaneously.

Flying Eagles over crowded their midfield mostly from the 50 yard box and made it impossible for opponents to find enough space to attack. It depended on counter attack, which was started by a long ball to Awoniyi or a quick run along the flank by Muhammed. The interesting thing was, as other players join the attack, every one of them had the capability to score goals

Muhammed won the Golden Boot Award as the highest goal scorer. You may argue that he scored the 4 goals from the penalty spot. Well, even world bests like Leo Messi miss penalty these days. For a defender to be chosen to take all the penalty kicks for the Nigerian side was evidence that Musa has some rare quality skills.

One thing going for Muhammed was his leadership quality. He seemed to be such a captain that carried everyone along and produced that extra fire required for the team to excel. The cohesiveness, team spirit, and winning mentality of the boys were superb. It looked almost impossible to break down the team or even defeat the Nigerian side.

For me, it wasn’t a surprise that Flying Eagles won the African U20 Championship. It had already won the Super 6 tournament in January. Remember, these were the same boys that won FIFA U16 World cup in 2013.

As Manu Garba, Coach of Nigeria U20 team, had accomplished his set target as African U20 champions, he went ahead to set a new target, which is to win FIFA U20 World Cup come May in New Zealand. I can beat my chest to tell you that the present Flying Eagles team is capable of accomplishing that target. If they do, it would be the first time Nigeria would be winning the FIFA World cup trophy at the U20 level.

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