Football: Nigeria Best XI of 2015

Vincent Enyeama

2015 is undoubtedly a year filled with mixed fortunes for Nigerian football.

The young teams all excelled, but it was a different story for the senior national team, the Super Eagles.

We take a lot at the finest Nigerian players in this calendar year – taking into consideration their contribution to both club and country.

Goalkeeper: Vincent Enyeama

Despite abruptly quitting the Super Eagles, Vincent Enyeama remains the best and safest pair of hands in the country.

The 33-year-old veteran has so far kept eight clean sheets in 17 games for French Ligue 1 side Lille.

Defence:  Lazarus John

Lazarus John gets the nod as part of our three-man back-line following his exploits at right back when Nigeria won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.

Earmarked as a potential Super Eagles player, the 17-year-old featured in all the games putting up solid defensive displays and also contributing occasionally in attack.

Defence: Chinedu Udoji

Enyimba lifted a record seventh Nigeria League title, thanks to inspirational captain and leader, Chinedu Udoji.

Udoji, 26, was instrumental in the People’s Elephants victorious campaign – providing vital goals and also shielding the back-line.

Defence: Austin Oboroakpo

Austin Oboaroakpo completes our defensive triangle – joining Udoji and Lazarus.

The player was evidently the best defender in the domestic league with Warri Wolves, an ever present member of the Super Eagles B team and lately with the main team.

Midfield: Kelechi Nwakali

Most Outstanding Player at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile, Kelechi Nwakali strolls into our team.

Apart from being the captain of the team, Nwakali scored thrice from his deep midfield role – one of which was a beautiful free kick against Mexico in the semi-final.

Midfield:  Okechukwu Azubuike

Joining Nwakali in midfield is another MVP for Nigeria, but this time at the CAF U-23 AFCON, the tournament that produced Nigeria, Algeria and South Africa as Africa’s representative at the next Olympics.

Skipper, Okechukwu Azubuike, was outstanding all through the tournament protecting his defence and providing a platform for his colleagues to attack.

Midfield: Oghenekaro Etebo

Oghenekaro Etebo shone like a million stars as the Dream Team VI defied all odds to clinch a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympics and win the CAF U-23 AFCON in Senegal.

The midfielder emerged top scorer at the competition scoring five goals – including two against Algeria in the final.

Forward: Gbolahan Salami

Gbolahan Salami capped a remarkable 2015 with 17 goals that made him the hottest goalscorer in the Nigerian league.

Salami, 26, hit double figures for the second consecutive season and scored vital goals for both the Super Eagles A and B.

Forward: Victor Osimhen

Golden shoe winner at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Victor Osimhen scored 10 goals to smash the record for most goals scored at a single tournament.

Now under the spotlight of top European sides, the 17-year-old impressed yet again in his cameo appearances at the U-23 tourney.

Forward: Odion Ighalo

Twenty-eight goals in 2015 alone for Watford in England, Odion Ighalo remains one of the mysteries in world football this year – he partners Osimhen in our deadly attacking team.

In March, the 26-year-old was handed his first senior debut for Nigeria and went on to feature in six other games, scoring twice.

Forward: Moses Simon

Moses Simon gets the license to operate on the flanks alongside Salami after impressing since Sunday Oliseh took over the helms as Super Eagles coach.

Simon, 20, has scored thrice in six games under Oliseh and has become an indispensable member of his team.

Formation: 3-3-4

Enyeama, Lazarus, Udoji, Oboroakpo; Kelechi Nwakali, Azubuike, Etebo; Salami, Osimhen, Ighalo, Simon