Sunny Stephen in action in MLS

Real Salt Lake star Sunday Stephen has told SCORENigeria he can bring much more to the Super Eagles midfield at next year’s World Cup in Russia.

The former Valencia defensive midfielder has said he hopes to get another shot at the national team after he debuted in an AFCON 2012 qualifier in Guinea.

‘Oryan’ has been not in the national team set-up since then, but has continued to distinguish himself at his various clubs, providing the much needed screen for the centre-backs in a deep-lying role.

He now wants to return to the Eagles to transfer his superlative club form to the Eagles engine-room.

“I play with strict instructions from the coaches I’ve spoken with since I left Nigeria to always keep things tight in front of the centre-backs,” ‘Oryan’ assured.

“At Real Salt Lake, the coach plays me in same role especially in difficult games that we must win because I play same role with the club captain.

“Coach Mike Petke wouldn’t keep his eyes off in all the games we needed to win and could sacrifice our captain to achieve his aim and this has worked for us.

“Some games I’ve been played in a box-to-box role, but deep lying role has been my strongest suit. I’ve enjoyed the three-man defensive formation at Real Salt Lake which also allows our captain, who plays same role as I do, some time to roam forward.

“I strongly believe I can bring all these qualities to bear in the Eagles midfield because I still have some unfinished business there.”

Sunny Stephen (left) and African legend Samuel Eto’o

Close confidant and an agent, Richard Ali Ofoegbu, said ‘Oryan’ will bring the much-needed stability in the Eagles defensive midfield role.

“’Oryan’ is arguably the best defensive midfielder Nigeria have got now and I don’t know why he’s not back in the team,” he argued.

“He’s matured with time and he has been consistent. He’s also much traveled and that comes with huge experience and exposure.

“He’s played in some of the top leagues in the world and that’s a huge plus for us. He has to be drafted into the team now.

“He’s one of the top-rated midfielders in the MLS and I believe we need his experience now that we are yet to get the right spark in that role.”

The Lagos-born star arrived in the MLS in January 2016 to have a feel of the ever-improving league from Turkish side Alanyaspor.

His uncompromising style has since installed him as the fans’ favourite at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Pundits in the MLS have also heaped praise on the organisation this former Spain U20 World Cup star brings to any team.

He showed class as to be singled out for special praise in his team’s 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders last season. That was the game he netted the winner and his first league goal in the MLS.

However, injuries restricted his appearances this season to 21 after he returned in a 3-2 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps on September 10.

The 29-year-old Sunny played 21 times last season, starting in all games and scoring once.

He has also played in Israel and Bulgaria.


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