Opinion: NFF Must Work Fast to Secure International Future of Carney Chukwuemeka

Opinion: NFF Must Work Fast to Secure International Future of Carney Chukwuemeka
Credit: Iconsport

Chelsea midfielder Carney Chibueze Chukwuemeka, after a tough season with the Blues, joined up with the England Young Lions at the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina.

His appearance at the tournament was delayed due to his club duties, leading to him missing the entirety of the group stages.

After the 2022/23 season came to an end, he joined up with the England youth team to participate in the round of 16 game against Italy. England were knocked out of the tournament in that tie, bringing a premature end to his sojourn with the England Young Lions side.

Chukwuemeka, England Out as Nigeria March to Glory

Chukwuemeka watched as Nigeria, the other country he is eligible to represent thanks to his parent’s heritage, bulldozed past hosts Argentina to make it to the quarter-finals of the tournament.

Goalball Live understands that the former Aston Villa youngster was approached to be a part of the Flying Eagles squad but he turned them down for England, as many have done in the past. As many have also done in the past, the 19-year-old is looking forward to a time when he will represent the England Three Lions on the global stage as a senior player.

The most recent example is Crystal Palace midfielder, Eberechi Eze, who was recently called up by Gareth Southgate to participate in England’s upcoming international matches. Chukwuemeka, meanwhile, will now watch from the sidelines as Nigeria, led by Ladan Bosso, will continue to power on to the U-20 World Cup title.

Bosso and his team progressed to the quarters by deploying a brilliant brand of defensive and attacking football that cut off Javier Mascherano’s team’s pathways to successfully move the ball around till they found the Nigeria defensive area.

Bosso finally helped Nigerians get the long-awaited revenge against Argentina in the tournament.

Midfield Continues to be a Problem for Nigeria; Chukwuemeka a Solution

In that game, Argentina dominated possession for more than 70 per cent of the game. The junior Albiceleste ran Nigeria ragged in the middle of the park and created better quality chances which a combination of the Flying Eagles’ defensive efforts and poor finishing prevented from becoming goals that would have seen them progress in Nigeria’s stead.

The game was a dire reminder of the dearth of quality midfield controllers that Nigeria has struggled with in the last few years. The same problem is at the heart of the Super Eagles' struggles in the last international outings, including the 2021 AFCON tournament.

With the loss of Eze to England, having Chukwuemeka could help the Super Eagles solve half of this problem for the foreseeable future.

Jose Peseiro is yet to announce his squad for the upcoming international games. It is expected, however, that the midfield will be scarce as it has been in the last few games under Peseiro as well as Austin Eguavoen and Gernot Rohr before him.

Chukwuemeka is already good enough to be a squad option for Premier League teams at the young age of 19. This is an age that many midfielders struggle to break into first teams. The Nigerian Football Federation will be solving a big Super Eagles squad issue as we approach the AFCON 2023 tournament in Ivory Coast if they successfully convince the Chelsea man to pick the Super Eagles ahead of the Three Lions.

This article was most recently revised and updated 11 months ago

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