Taribo West believes Premier League’s attacking duo Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses could prove they are the ideal replacements for Austin Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu in the Super Eagles.
Nigeria have struggled to replicate the form, which made them one of the most feared and respected teams in Africa since the creative playmakers called time on their international careers.
Former PSG attacking midfielder Okocha, who helped Nigeria win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia, retired after captaining the Eagles during the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup.
Arsenal hero Kanu retired from international football after captaining Nigeria during the South Africa 2010 World Cup.
Former Eagles defender Taribo, who has heaped praise on Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr following the Eagles’ run of two straight wins in their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers, insists the team still lack an extraordinary player, in spite of their solid start to the race to Russia.
“The team are playing well because we have a clever coach in Rohr,” the Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games gold medallist, who represented the country are the France ’98 and Korea/Japan 2002 World Cups, told our correspondent on the telephone.
“But there is no any extraordinary player like Kanu or Okocha in the team yet – and there’s no winger like George Finidi in the team.
“Kanu and Okocha were players who could make things happen when you thought it was over for the team.
“When I played for the national team I always believed Kanu or Okocha would come up with something when all hope seemed lost, because they were players who could create something from nothing in a game.
“We don’t have such players in the Eagles at present, but the coach has built the team in such a way that they take collective responsibility.”
The former Inter Milan and AC Milan strongman added, “The Eagles need game-changers and Iheanacho and Moses are players who can become important players for the team. I have watched Iheanacho many times and I think he’s a talent.
“Moses has great dribbling skills and he’s dangerous coming from behind. I played the same role (right wing-back) he’s currently playing at Chelsea at Inter. It’s not easy playing the role Moses is playing at Chelsea; it’s not for average players.
“They (Iheanacho and Moses) are still developing. In a short time, we’ll have replacements for Kanu and Okocha in the Eagles.”
Taribo, who predicted victories for Nigeria in their Russia 2018 qualifying double-header against Cameroon next year, says pundits and fans should not write off-form Watford striker Odion Ighalo off just yet.
According to the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations silver medallist, the player still has a lot to offer the national team.