IKENWA NNABUOGOR hails Orlando Pirates ace Olisa Ndah, the next big thing in the Super Eagles defence with the AFCON as a starting point…
It’s no surprise that the Orlando Pirates ace defender Olisa Harold Ndah is on the Super Eagles final squad and the timing of his much-expected invite couldn’t have come at a better time than now.
Back in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), where he became a champion with Akwa United before the multiple-time South African champions Orlando Pirates made him one of theirs, Ndah had long charted his path to the very top.
NPFL watchers believe his invite was long overdue and the central defender ought to have joined the Eagles while still sporting the Akwa United colours, but they didn’t fail to hail coach Augustine Eguavoen for his courage to call him up.
Ndah, whose father, Ndubuisi Ndah, was a household name in the local league, captaining Enugu Rangers and taking his game to Malta, has since settled down for business in the heart of the Orlando Pirates defence.
So good has he been at Pirates that he’s been named twice as the Buccaneers’ top star as the fans have resigned to fate they will soon lose their Nigerian acquisition.
Ndah had distinguished himself in the heart of defence for the B Team, the Home-based Eagles, and was only waiting for the best options from the retinue of suitors abroad to navigate his way to the senior team.
His stocks rose so fast and expectedly too, even earning him a place in the Buccaneers’ folklore despite not spending years there yet.
He has developed so fast that he appears he will soon be bigger than Pirates and lifting his game to making the AFCON team appears to have fast tracked his long-term plans.
The Eagles central defence has not been far from convincing in the last few games as the “Oyinbo Wall” of Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong has shown some signs of cracks.
Balogun’s absence at the AFCON has now meant the Oyinbo Wall will not be complete and the inclusion of Ndah could be seen as a project going forward.
Troost-Ekong will be expected to pair either Spain-based Kenneth Omeruo or Alanyaspor of Turkey versatile centre-back Chidozie Awaziem.
Eguavoen could take a huge gamble by throwing Ndah into the fray to kick start the succession bid well ahead of the “planned” time.
Surely, Ndah will keep his bragging rights to make some impact should Eguavoen take a chance on him, but that will take some damning guts for Eguavoen to do so.
He could still learn from the dugout in Cameroon and take up the gauntlet gamely when he is eventually handed the main responsibilities.
Just like his dad, Ndah is a complete centre back – strong, hard, stylish, composed and he possesses an uncommon defensive skill of dispossessing strikers without committing a foul.
His vision could be mistaken for a central midfielder as his long and short passes are enthralling and all these qualities will definitely put him in good stead as the heir to the Eagles defence.
A thorough home-grown talent with a little taste of Maltese football, Ndah is surely on his way to greatness.
The Eagles’ bigger picture could be that of Ndah/Awaziem defensive combo and the life after Cameroon could begin a new dawn.
But just before he ascends the “throne”, welcome to the Super Eagles, Olisa Ndah!