John Obi Mikel is convinced that Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi and his Manchester City contemporary Kelechi Iheanacho can ensure Nigeria have a bright future ahead of them.
Both have shone in their first full Premier League seasons, with Iwobi finding himself at the centre of a tug of war between England and Nigeria over his international future.
Having played for England at youth level the FA were keen to ensure Iwobi committed to Roy Hodgson’s full side, despite having made two appearances for the Super Eagles in friendly matches last year.
The 19-year-old has made clear though that he is committed to Nigeria and is expected to shake off a bout of food poisoning to play a part in his country’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt on Friday, effectively ending the possibility of him appearing for England.
For Mikel, newly named as Nigeria’s captain, the addition of Iwobi and Iheanacho offers plenty of encouragement for the years to come.
“It’s amazing to see these young players coming through – Iwobi and Iheanacho – they’re doing great for their clubs and I think they are the future of this Super Eagles,” he said.
“We have got a right blend now of older and younger players. I think it is always good to have this balance with young players so that they can learn and grow fast in the game.
“It’s quite different playing in the national team and playing in the clubs so it’s good for them to start early. In years to come I think we will see them do well.”
Hopes are high for young players in Nigeria, with the Under 17 side triumphing in last year’s World Cup and Kelechi Nwakali, seemingly bound for Arsenal, claiming the Golden Boot.
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