By Pat Muo
By the time you read this, the dust which rose following the non-release of Kelechi Iheanacho and Isaac Success must have settled.Iheanacho and Success were members of Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets which won the last edition of the FIFA Under -17 world cup tournament in 2013. For the past six months, head coach of the Under-20 Flying Eagles, Garba Manu had insisted that the two players were part of his arrow heads for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup tournament which kicks off on May 30 in New Zealand.
After the boys’ outstanding performances in the U- 17 World Cup two years ago, Manchester City of England and FC Granada of Spain quickly employed the boys into their folds.
As a result of Iheanacho’s age, Manchester City signed him into its youth team while Granada of Spain was so confident of Isaac Success that it took him straight into its main team.
Unfortunately for the La Liga club, its campaign in the Spanish League has been unimpressive. At the moment, FC Granada is fighting to survive relegation in the La Liga.
Its pitiable position down the lower rung of the Spanish League has made FC Granada reluctant to let go of Isaac Success to play for Nigeria in New Zealand.
Juan Cordero, FC Granada’s sporting director, did not hide his feelings about the release of Success when confronted: “Nobody in Granada will ascent to that request at this time,” he retorted. “We are deeply plunging into relegation in the La Liga. Not just that, the much we have achieved is because of Isaac. He plays in all matches even if it is friendly games. Releasing him now means that we should go home and prepare to drop to the lower league.”
Cordero is not alone. Club coach and manager, Abel Resino did not even want to hear about it. “We got Nigeria’s request for Isaac to play in the FIFA Under 20,” an embattled Resino retorted. “He is their property – a Nigerian. But to ask him to go for camping now will physically destroy our club. Granada is a big club in Spain. We play in the La Liga. Now, our situation is so bad that we cannot allow any member of our playing staff to walk away except because of injury.”
“We thank God that Isaac Success is not injured. But he remains here. For now, Nigeria will require FIFA’s intervention to get him off our hands at this moment.”
Resino was clearly determined. For half a century, Granada has played in the La Liga. Clubs had, within this period, been relegated. But not FC Granada! No one has ever thought of this ever happening. But of all years, 2015 has exhumed this fate for the Spaniards.
The war the management is fighting today is the battle to save the club. It remains to see if they will succeed. To win this battle, handing over Isaac Success so early to Nigeria is not part of it. It will amount to calamity if it is done!”
Both Cordero and Resino sang this song. Their body languages were similar. Success cannot be freed to join his Nigerian mates early in camp while his team is fighting to avoid the drop.
“We respect Nigeria,” Resino put in. “We are sorry for what we have to do. Great players come from that country. Isaac is one of them. But they have to excuse us for now.”
Kelechi Iheanacho’s case is more worrisome. Manchester City of England just held unto Iheanacho for no obvious reason. The only reason Nigeria cannot take Iheanacho to play for the Flying Eagles in New Zealand is injury. The boy is a striker of a different class.
With him in the Flying Eagles, Nigeria does not have to worry about goal scoring problems. Fortunately, Kelechi Iheanacho is fit, very fit. If one should dream, please dream about an attacking formation of Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, Isaac Success, Christain Pyagbara and Chidera Eze!
On June 1, when the Flying Eagles will open its campaign at the gigantic Stadium Tanaraki in New Plymouth, Nigerians expect to see coach Garba field his attack from this group.