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Uzoho, Idowu get Rohr praise for great debut

*Idowu enters record as 59th debutant to score

*Sampaoli blames wastefulness for Argentina’s defeat

Super Eagles’ coach, Gernot Rohr, has singled out the duo of goalkeeper Francis Odinaka Uzoho and Bryan Idowu for special praise in Nigeria’s 4-2 win over Argentina in a pre-World Cup friendly for having a wonderful debut in the national team.

Rohr, who handed debut to the duo, rated them as two players, who really impressed him during the match, which saw Nigeria recovering from two goals down to win 4-2.

Idowu scored on his debut to become the 59th Nigerian player to score on his debut, after coming on for Ola Aina, while Uzoho ensured Nigeria didn’t concede again when he replaced Daniel Akpeyi, who conceded both goals.

The Russian link to Eagles: “Idowu is a newcomer in the team, but he’s not the only one. We have three new players and I would like to highlight our 19-year-old goalkeeper Uzoho. He played well. Such matches are specially designed so that we can assess new players in the team. We have three players who have a special relationship with Russia.

“We have Ahmed Musa and the captain (Mikel Obi) of the team. He has a connection here through the family. Bryan played well, scored a goal. His prospects depend on how he will perform at the club. His debut, I am happy. On his position we have other options, so we will pick who plays better, he will be involved in the fight,” he said.

Also speaking after the match, the Amkar Perm defender, Idowu said scoring on his debut for Nigeria gave him a wonderful feeling, just as he revealed that several Super Eagles players have been asking him questions about Russia.

Eight minutes after coming off the bench, Idowu scored to give Nigeria a lead for the first time in the match against Argentina.

“It is clear, I felt normal, the third match at this stadium. Everyone was surprised if this stadium is a World Cup venue. I said no. Everyone was shocked. But I explained that the matches of the mundial will be held in Sochi,” Idowu told reporters at the post-match conference.

“They asked me questions related to whether the soup is Russian, whether it is Russian salad, how to say “good morning”, “thank you”. The atmosphere is very positive, and I am glad that it turned out to be a successful debut,” he enthused.

Sampaoli blamed wasted chances for defeat: Meanwhile, Argentina Coach, Jorge Sampaoli has blamed his side’s 2-4 defeat to the number of chances it wasted after going two goals up.

Sampaoli’s side squandered a two-goal lead to lose 2-4 as Nigeria rallied back with a strong showing in the second half of the encounter meant to prepare both teams for the World Cup in Russia.

The coach said, “I do not think it’s hard to explain. We played in the first half well… in the second we tried to play more in attack. It happens with all the teams. Nigeria had many good moments, but we defended well, and I think that we just did not realise our moments. There were many passes which we couldn’t use.”

Bryan Idowu playing in the Russian Premier League
Bryan Idowu playing in the Russian Premier League

Peep into the Bryan Idowu factor: Bryan Idowu, a defender with FC Amkar Perm in the Russian Premier League, was a second half substitute for Ola Aina who was having his third outing in Nigeria’s colours.

14 minutes after his introduction, the defender surged forward to put Nigeria ahead after Alex Iwobi had levelled the score line for Nigeria.

His impressive performance could be an indication of what should be expected from him in the days leading to the World Cup that will be competed for in his country of abode.

Idowu, whose middle name is Oladapo,  was touted as a potential star in the Russian  set-up following his standout performances in Amkar’s campaign  in the 2015-16   Russian Premier League season. With the player’s performance  turning him into something of a cult hero in the team, some sections of the Russian media tipped him to represent the national team  at the first World Cup holding in the country since its inception in 1930.

A resident of Russia, Idowu is of Nigerian decent, having a full blooded Nigerian father and half Nigerian, half Russian mother. He was born and raised in Russia except for the period he was aged three to six when he lived in Owerri, Nigeria.

The Russian Football Union was reportedly keen on having Idowu, who can play as a  left-back, right-back, central defender, winger and central midfielder, in the national team. But  Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov, who never gave Idowu a chance on the first team when he managed  Amkar from  2013 to  2014, refused to invite him.

Idowu grew frustrated with Cherchesov’s apparent lack of interest in his services – and decided to listen to Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr when the 64-year-old German  sounded him out about his Nigeria project.

But his Russian  coach at   Amkar  Gadzhi Gadzhiyev wanted Idowu to play for the country where he was born and tried to stop him from switching his international allegiance to Nigeria.

“Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr contacted me and told me that he was  following me,” ESPNquoted Idowu as saying on Thursday.

“He wanted to invite me to the squad, but that was impossible because I didn’t have a Nigerian passport.

“Gadzhiev said that such a call is not incidental, and I should keep progressing. He advised me to wait and see if I get called by Russia as well. I don’t see why I can’t play for Russia if I keep getting better, but they have good players like Mario Fernandes  in my position. They don’t miss me.”

Apart from guaranteeing him a  place in his World Cup squad to Russia 2018, Rohr  is looking to  Idowu to play dual roles  at the tournament. He may have compounded the selection headaches for Coach Rohr who will be seriously be thinking of how to accommodate the player that was not part of the qualifying series.

Scoring debutants in the senior national team: The impressive well-built defender with attacking instinct has now joined the rank of other notable Nigerian players – Obafemi Martins, Finidi George, Uche Okechukwu, Thompson Usiyan and Matthias Obianika among others who scored in the very first time they played for Nigeria.

It has been long that a previously uncapped player found the net. Peter Utaka and Osas Idehen did score for a second string Nigerian side of 2010 in the 5-2 demolition of Congo DR in a friendly tie in Abuja.

Iwobi too missed being a scoring debutant as his first goal for Nigeria after having been substitute in two previous matches with Congo and Cameroon in friendly matches played in Vise, Belgium in October 2015.

The first scoring debutant for Nigeria was Tesilimi Balogun, in whose name a stadium in Lagos is named. It was against Sierra Leone in both countries’ maiden international duel on the 8th October, 1949, that he achieved his feat.

The last time Nigeria presented the full complement of its national team in Lagos was 2001 in an African Nations Cup qualifier. Victor Agali, having his first cap, scored the solitary goal of the encounter.

Obafemi Martins was also another scoring debutant when he found the net in Nigeria’s 3-0 demolition of Republic of Ireland in a friendly game on the 29th May, 2004 in London.

Barely six months later, Ayodele Makinwa joined the exclusive club when he scored Nigeria’s only goal in a 2-1 loss to South Africa on the occasion of the Mandela Challenge tie in Johannesburg. That was the first time South Africa scored and ever beat Nigeria.

NIGERIA’S SCORING DEBUTANTS

Serial PLAYER                                 MATCH/ DATE VENUE

  1. Balogun Tesilimi Sierra Leone  8th October, 1949 Freetown
  2. Okoh Friday – 2 goals Gold Coast    20th October, 1951 Lagos
  3. Asoluka Cyril Gold Coast    20th October, 1951 Lagos
  4. Anieke Peter Gold Coast    20th October, 1951 Lagos
  5. Okere Titus   Gold Coast    20th October, 1951 Lagos
  6. Okwudili Daniel Gold Coast    27th October, 1956 Lagos
  7. Longe Julius   Gold Coast    27th October, 1956 Lagos
  8. Ejoh Hubert Gold Coast    27th October, 1956 Lagos
  9. Noquapor Patrick – 2goals v. Ghana 27th October, 1957 Accra
  10. Ijeomah Isaac      Ghana        27th October, 1957 Accra
  11. Buraimoh Abudu – 2Goals v. Ghana 25th October, 1958 Lagos
  12. Onyali Elkana v. Ghana 10th October, 1959 Lagos
  13. Ohiri Christopher v. Ghana 10th October, 1959 Lagos
  14. Chukwumah Egwuonu v. Tunisia 10th December, 1961 Tunis
  15. Egbuonu Johnny v. Cameroon 1st January, 1963, Yaounde
  16. Udemezue Chris v. Cameroon 1st January, 1963, Yaounde
  17. Olatunji Lasisi v. Guinea 27th July, 1963 Lagos
  18. Anieke Sunday v. Gabon 28th August, 1965 Libreville
  19. Mordi Bobo v. Gabon 28th August, 1965 Libreville
  20. Olowo-Oshodi Samsideen v. Congo 5th November, 1966 Lagos
  21. Aghoghovbia Joe v. Cameroon 10th December, 1968 Lagos
  22. Obianika Mathias – 2 Goals v. Upper Volta 27th November, 1971 Lagos
  23. Oyarekhua Sunny v. Upper Volta 27th November, 1971 Lagos
  24. Popoola Ben v. Cote d’Ivoire 18th July, 1974 Lagos
  25. Ibeabuchi Ogidi v. Ghana 24th August, 1974 Accra
  26. Usiyen Thompson v. Kenya 7th February, 1976 Nairobi
  27. Godwin Iwelumo v. Benin 14th February, 1977 Lagos
  28. Onwuachi Martins v. Benin 14th October, 1978 Cotonou
  29. Boateng Leotis v. Tunisia 12th July, 1980 Lagos
  30. Emmanuel Osigwe v. Tunisia 12th July, 1980, Lagos
  31. Nwokocha Chris v. Tanzania 12th December, 1980 Dar-es-Salam
  32. Ali Bala v. Upper Volta 18th July, 1981 Lagos
  33. Adeshina Ademola v. Ethiopia 7th March, 1982 Benghazi
  34. Omughele John v. Ghana 30th October, 1983 Accra
  35. Sadi Dahiru v. Kenya 20th April, 1985 Lagos
  36. Balarabe Abubakar v. Guinea 9th April, 1989 Conakry
  37. Adekola Adeolu v. Guinea 22nd April, 1989 Ibadan
  38. Oyekanmi Taju v. Cote d’Ivoire 25th January, 1990 Kaduna
  39. Okechukwu Uche v. Cote d’Ivoire 25th January, 1990 Kaduna
  40. Lawal Dimeji v. Togo 18th August, 1990 Lagos
  41. Finidi George v. Burkina Faso 27th July, 1991 Lagos
  42. Taiwo Wasiu v. USA 11th June, 1995 Boston
  43. Fatusi Tesilimi v. Czech Rep. 11th December, 1996 Casablanca
  44. Zeigbo Kenneth v. Cameroon 7th August, 1997 Tunis
  45. Garba Ahmed v. Iran 28th January, 1998 Hong Kong
  46. Aghahowa Julius v. Morocco 3rd February, 2000 Lagos
  47. Ishola Shuaibu v. Malawi 4th June, 2000 Kano
  48. Agali Victor v. Zambia 13th January, 2001 Lagos
  49. Opabunmi Femi v. Kenya 4th May, 2002 Lagos
  50. Ogochukwu Ileagwu v. Senegal 12th October, 2002 Dakar
  51. Ogechukwu Uche v. Ghana 15th December, 2002 Accra
  52. Akwueme Emeka v. Jordan 28th April, 2004 Lagos
  53. Martins Obafemi v. Ireland 29th May, 2004 London
  54. Makinwa Ayodele v. South Africa 17th November, 2004 Johannesburg
  55. Akabueze Chukwuma v. Kenya 27th May, 2007 Nairobi
  56. Peter Utaka v. Congo DR 3rd March, 2010 Abuja
  57. Osas Idehen v. Congo DR 3rd March, 2010 Abuja
  58. Ehiosun Ekigho v. Sierra Leone 9th February, 2011, Lagos
  59. Bryan Idowu Argentina, 14th November, 2017

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