The former Super Eagles great opts for a 4-3-3 with legends such as Rufai, Keshi, Okocha and Yekini all in the team
Mon 4 Jun 2018 12.00 BST Last modified on Tue 5 Jun 2018 00.00 BST
Given Nigeria’s rich history and record at international level, there are many players to choose from but I have gone with a lot of those I played with because I truly believe it represented a unique period in Nigeria’s history with the Nations Cup triumph in 1994 and our qualification for the World Cup that same year when we proved we can compete with the very best.
Peter Rufai is the undisputed choice for me as goalkeeper because he was huge for us in both the Nations Cup win and the World Cup performance in 1994, acting not just as a superb final line of defence but also as a leader from the back.
Augustine Eguavoen is my pick for the right-back slot but the left-back position is slightly more difficult. Celestine Babayaro was brilliant for both Nigeria and at club level, especially for Chelsea, but I will go for Ben Iroha because I think he provided an extra spark to the Nigeria team in attack.
Stephen Keshi’s place in Nigeria’s history is undisputed so his position in this team is not up for discussion but Nigeria has had some superb centre-backs and natural leaders, including Christian Chukwu, who captained the Super Eagles to a first Nations Cup title in 1980. My choice as partner for Keshi, however, is Uche Okechukwu who was rock solid for Nigeria in two Nations Cup finals – 1990 and 1994 – as well as playing central roles in two round of 16 finishes at the World Cup for Nigeria.
I want my Nigeria team to line up in a 4-3-3 formation so we can accommodate the many attacking talents to have pulled on the national jersey. The anchorman in midfield is a simple decision: Sunday Oliseh. He could shield the defence, he was a good tackler, he had a great pass and he scored when you needed him to.
To complement Oliseh’s steel in that midfield will be the flair of Jay Jay Okocha, who could do practically anything he wanted with that ball to set up Nigeria’s attack. Then I will stick myself in that three as a sort of support striker, playing behind the main striker. I always thrived for Nigeria in that position because it allowed me to see the game better, to roam about in front a bit, pick up loose balls and feed the main man up front.
And there is only one choice for the main striker. For me it has to be Rashidi Yekini, the record goalscorer for Nigeria, with 37 goals in 62 games. His record for Nigeria was excellent. He was also top scorer and player of the tournament for Nigeria at the 1994 Nations Cup in addition to scoring the country’s first ever World Cup goal. There are so many players who could play alongside Yekini in a front three.
Tijani Babangida was brilliant and Segun Odegbami roamed the flanks with elegance in his days but I am going to choose Finidi George, formerly of Ajax, and the ex-Barcelona winger Emmanuel Amunike to provide good balance on the right and left wings.