Duro Ikhazuagbe with agency report
Arsenal celebrated Super Eagles’ new wonder-boy, Alex Iwobi, by posting a picture of him when in 2003 he was signed on as a seven-year old kid on Instagram.
The Arsenal academy graduate who has burst onto the scene with his first Premiership goal last weekend was subtly reminded by the club where it all began.
This morning, Iwobi and all the other 22 players invited by caretaker coach, Samson Siasia, for Nigeria’s two-legged 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier with Egypt are to depart Abuja for Kaduna to perfect the game plan to cage the invading Pharaohs.
The 19-year-old lad was the first of the invited foreign legions to hit Eagles camp in the federal capital city.
After his baptism with star-studded Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday before scoring his first senior goal for Arsenal in Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Everton, Iwobi appears very ready to kick off his Eagles adventure on Friday in Kaduna. His only other two appearances for Nigeria were made in international friendlies.
Yesterday, Arsenal’s Instagram page showed the picture of Iwobi 13 years ago, with the Nigerian international wearing the away shirt from the 2004-04 unbeaten season, with the caption, ‘It’s been quite a week for @alexanderiwobi – here he is signing for #Arsenal, aged seven, back in November 2003. #YoungGun #Academy #Iwobi #Gooner.’
Iwobi, having signed a long term deal with the club in October last year, has made 14 appearances for Arsene Wenger’s side so far this campaign and has recently managed to displace Theo Walcott on the right flank.
The Nigerian, who is the nephew of Jay-Jay Okocha, was praised by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry on Twitter following his strike at Goodison Park.
‘Hard work pays off. Well done @alexiwobi you deserve it. #COYG,’ posted Henry.
The Gunners prodigy was thrilled to score his first goal for the club and thanked fellow forward Danny Welbeck for his influence. ‘It is not bad, I’m enjoying the moment,’ Iwobi told the club website. ‘I’m just happy to help my team and that is a positive so we will take that into the next game.
‘It is a dream playing with him (Welbeck). He gives me confidence, he is helping me out and gives me advice,’ Iwobi was quoted by UK’s Daily Mail.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has also praised Iwobi for his rapid progress in the senior team.
“He benefits from his talents, intelligence and attitude,’ Wenger told the club’s Arsenal Player. ‘He has been practising with the players since the start of the season and he has been growing in contact with these players and he is learning quickly from them,” concludes the Frenchman who gave Iwobi the chance to express his talent.
But Iwobi’s teammate at Arsenal, Mohammed Elneny, believes the match will be difficult for Nigeria to defeat Egypt.
The 23-year-old former FC Basel man is ready to spoil Iwobi’s good fortune by grabbing a win in Kaduna.
“I told him (Iwobi) that it will be hard for Nigeria to beat Egypt,” the 23-year-old told popular Arab satellite television, MBC.
Elneny has the hunch that the Pharaohs can beat Nigeria on Friday despite acknowledging that Eagles will be tough.
“I have a good feeling that we will be able to win the match. Nigeria is a good tough team but we’re good too. I also feel that I am surrounded by support from everyone encouraging us to get back to winning,” said Elneny.