Ahmed Musa may not be a name that immediately registers among many. But for Nigerians, ardent supporters of the Super Eagles and followers of the Russian League, Musa is a household name.
Born in October, 1992, the pacy forward currently plies his trade with CSKA Moscow and is a fixture in the current incarnation of Nigeria’s Super Eagles. He has also played for Kano Pillars, where he set a goals record in 2009-10.
Much like the retired Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha, Musa is a player capable of putting spectators on their feet. He is growing to become the new Okocha for his national side.
Known for his pace, dribbling, composure, versatility and defensive effort, the 22-year old has been compared to Jesus Navas and Arjen Robben for his pace and his ability to cut inside, run at defences and create chances.
He is also one of the few Nigerian players to have maintained an appreciable level of consistency since the Eagles failed to qualify for the last African Cup of Nations. He remains a bright spot, even as the national team appears to be unorganised at the moment; no one is quite sure whether Stephen Keshi is still the head coach or just acting on a temporary basis, or not acting at all.
The Eagles last match against South Africa ended in a draw, and once again Musa was a delight. With the qualifying fixtures for the next edition of Afcon already released, the task is for the Eagles to put a team together that will overcome the likes of Chad, Tanzania and Egypt.
That team will contain the likes of John Mikel Obi, captain Vincent Enyeama, and definitely Musa, who will play a key role in the success of the Eagles during the qualifiers.
However, as the game of football develops day-after-day, so do modern footballers. If Musa must become the fulcrum of the Super Eagles, he must step up his game by playing regularly against the best in the world.
The Russian League is hardly the strongest in the world, but it has developed some fine players over the years. Still, the competition is not enough to prepare a player for the role Musa is likely to play in the future. What better preparatory ground to utilise than the UEFA Champions League?
Eleven points currently separate run away leaders Zenit St. Petersburg at the top of the league table having secured 54 points while Musa’s CSKA currently sit in the 3rd place with 43 points behind Krasnodar who are second on the log with 44 points. With their title hopes in shambles, Musa and his teammates will be content to settle for a Champions League ticket provided their can upstage Krasnodar from the second position.
That would not be an underachievement for CSKA, and it would definitely help Musa mature into a better and more mature player.
While a move to Europe may not be far from coming, the opportunity to pit his wits against Europe’s best every fortnight will do wonders for his development.
That, in return, will do wonders for the Nigerian Super Eagles. So when CSKA travel to take on Amkar Perm on Monday, every fan of Nigerian football should have their feet up in front of the TV – let’s cheer for the future of Nigerian football.