Kelechi becoming a superstar back home
- 21 February 2016 09:01
- Posted by @dclayton_mcfc
City’s rising teenage star Kelechi Iheanacho is big news in his home country Nigeria where he is approaching something close to hero status for youngsters hoping to follow in his footsteps.
In something of a Kelechi special, there is a bit of everything on the Blues’ find of the season in this morning’s media round-up.
We’ll begin with Super Sport, who suggest the striker is set to become a regular fixture for the national team. They write: “Iheanacho could figure in Nigeria's 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games against Egypt in March, supersport.com can report.
“Nigeria head coach, Sunday Oliseh, explained that he is considering the Manchester City striker on the strength of his recent performances for his club.
“The Super Eagles gaffer is also weighing up the option of making the trip to Manchester to have a face-to-face talk with the 19-year-old.
“However, Oliseh, 41, is yet to make his squad for the Afcon qualifying games against Egypt public but stated that he knows players he wants to call up for the double-header in March.
‘I have not sent out my list of invited players yet. But with the kind of goal he came on to score (for Manchester City against Tottenham) recently I am looking very much at him. In fact I hope to move up to Manchester, but I am just waiting on some little things to be sorted out then we will have that done,’ Oliseh said."
Meanwhile, The Telegraph name Kelechi in their rookies of the year feature with Paul Hayward writing: “Grandiose claims are made for Manchester City's academy. Kelechi Iheanacho is the first to emerge from the club's vast campus as a potential first-team regular.
"Iheanacho, a Nigerian touted as the best young player from Africa, caught manager Manuel Pellegrini's eye on last summer's pre-season tour and has capitalised on Sergio Aguero's frequent absences through injury.
“He posted his first competitive goal against Crystal Palace in September and struck a hat-trick against Aston Villa in the FA Cup last month. Already a better impact sub than Wilfried Bony, Iheanacho has scored 9 in 21 appearances: a healthy return for a 19-year-old.
"It's a long road to the top still but he could be City's first 'home-grown' star of the Sheikh Mansour era. A middle name of 'Promise' also helps.”
And there’s more, with Nigeria’s Leadership website also carrying a story on the talented teen as they report: “Iheanacho endured a difficult childhood in Nigeria, but now serves as a hero figure for kids, who crowd round the television to catch a glimpse of him.
“That will be the case today, as Iheanacho lines up against Chelsea for Manuel Pellegrini’s side in the FA Cup.
“The public pay a fee of 50 naira, around 20 pence, to watch the games, but Iheanacho reveals he couldn’t afford that cost as a child.
‘We didn’t have the money,’ he told the Daily Mail. ‘Maybe after the game I’d hear the scores. I’d be at home playing football and my friends would come back after being there to tell me. We didn’t have a television at home.
‘Sometimes I watched the Spanish league — it was a bit cheaper, maybe 30 naira. But the Premier League was 50.
‘Sometimes I’d watch the Premier League if I found the money, or I’d go there and beg them to let me in. Or sneak in for the second half and pay half the money.’”
Turning attention to this afternoon’s FA Cup tie, London 24 carry an update on the Chelsea squad with a suggestion of who may face the Blues today.
“Midfielder Oscar returned from a calf injury in the midweek Champions League loss at Paris St Germain and could come in to start,” they write. “Midfielder Nemanja Matic is available following his European suspension, but Alexandre Pato is still short of match fitness and Kurt Zouma (knee) and Radamel Falcao (thigh) are long-term absentees.
“Guus Hiddink confirmed he will be playing a strong side and is taking the FA Cup very seriously. Eden Hazard could start despite criticism in recent days. Provisional squad: Courtois, Begovic, Blackman, Ivanovic, Fabregas, Rahman, Oscar, Hazard, Mikel, Traore, Kenedy, Pedro, Remy, Costa, Miazga, Matic, Willian, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Loftus-Cheek.”
Finally, with the fixture planners not doing City any favours with the scheduling of today’s game, columnist Gabriele Marcotti takes an independent view on the subject.
His thoughts are succinct and, it’s fair to say, on the money.
He writes: “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the FA Cup ranks fourth in that list of priorities. With City travelling to the Ukraine tomorrow, shoe- horning in this match today, less than 24 hours earlier, seems mad. Pellegrini pointed out, logically, the game ought to have been played yesterday.
“But no. Due to the convoluted nature of how fixtures are decided, the lack of co-operation between the Football Association, broadcasters and the Football League, and the police’s inability to handle two games on the same day in grounds a mile apart, yesterday was a no go.
“Chelsea v Manchester City pits the last two Premier League champions and is the pick of the FA Cup fifth round. Logic would have dictated making it a televised game yesterday. All you had to do was swap it with the Bournemouth v Everton game, also on the BBC, so the two sides could be as close to full-strength as possible.
“But no. Fulham were playing Charlton Athletic yesterday at Craven Cottage and evidently a game between two bad second-tier sides takes precedence.”
That’s all for today – enjoy the game and we’ll have all the reaction here tomorrow morning…