Brown Ideye: Eye on Russia 2018


Barely four months to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, footballers across the globe are raring to go. Nigerian players are no exception. Two weeks ago, Brown Ideye made a loan move to Malaga from Chinese Super League side, Tianjin Teda. In this piece, Kunle Adewale examines how the move may revive his career and earn him a place in the Super Eagles line-up in Russia

Super Eagles striker, Brown Ideye, last Monday completed a loan move from Chinese Super League side, Tianjin Teda, to Spanish LaLiga club Malaga and expressed delight at the move. The 29-year-old forward, who scored four goals in 14 appearances with Tianjin, said on Instagram:
“So happy to have signed for Malaga on loan in one of the biggest leagues in the world.

“I enjoyed my time at Tianjin Teda and I want to thank the management and fans. Now onto a new chapter in La Liga. Big thanks to everyone who made this possible for me; I’m grateful. I can’t wait to get started!”
Speaking after he was certified fit by the club doctors, the former Dynamo Kyiv striker said he was looking forward to settling down at Malaga.
“I am happy and looking forward to it. I am looking forward to playing here at Malaga right from the first day I played against the club in a friendly match. I like it here and I am happy to be here,” Ideye told MalagaTV.
Tianjin Teda demoted Ideye to their second team to make way for new recruit Frank Acheampong after the latter joined the Chinese side on loan from Belgium outfit, Anderlecht.
“My plan is to execute the World Cup with the players who are playing regularly with their clubs. How do you expect a coach to jet out to Russia with average players who lack playing time? I do take my time to visit various club sides in Europe to beg the coaches to build my players’ mind towards a great competition like the World Cup”, Rohr had said.
At the height of Nigerian players moving to China, Rohr had stated that players based in Europe were going to be considered ahead of the Chinese-based ones for major tournaments.
“The Chinese League is not as backward as many thought, but has moved forward from what it used to be. However, Europe is still where I feel is best for players as the level is very high. We have to consider the players in competitive leagues before looking at the players in less competitive leagues, maybe three players from China would be ideal for our squad”, Rohr  had said.
The German tactician at one time threatened that only three players from the Chinese league would eventually join the World Cup train, which he later rebutted. However, with no players invited from the Chinese League in the back-to-back international friendly matches against Senegal and Burkina Faso and the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa last year lends credence to his threat.
Revealing why he dropped China- based players for 2019 Nations Cup qualifier against South Africa, Rohr said: “It’s very difficult to monitor the players in China. Also, I was satisfied with the performances of the young players I have been working with for the past two weeks in France. That was why we decided to keep this group.”
Former Nigeria international, Waidi Akani, said the move to Malaga by Ideye was a smart idea at reviving his career after a turbulent time in China.
“Yes, to make the World Cup team might be his primary aim for moving to Malaga, but what matters most is that he must be playing regularly and very well for the Spanish team to earn a recall to the national team. No doubt, he would be noticed faster in Spain than in China,” Akani said.
He, however, admitted that no matter the league a player plays in if he’s enjoying a regular playing time, he would get the attention of his national team coach.
“It’s not a must that everybody should play in Europe. Invitation to the Super Eagles should never be based on where the player is playing, but rather, the current form of the player. That is why a coach should be up and doing. A coach does not necessary have to travel abroad to monitor players. The world is now a global village and coaches can monitor the performance of their players even in the comfort of their homes.
“The Chinese Super League is now on live on television for everybody to see. The fact that a player is playing in China should not be a limitation to his national team career. After all, there are a number of players in the main stream European League, yet could not play themselves into the national team,” Akani said.
Also reacting to Rohr’s threat to blank out China-based players from the national team, Content Marketing Manager of StarTimes, Qasim Elegbede, urged the coach to have a rethink. He argued that Rohr cannot close his eyes to good Nigerian talents in the Chinese Super League because of the country where the league is holding.
“That is a generalised statement that a person like Rohr should not make. The example of Patrick Mboma is apt here. When he came to Nigeria to help Cameroon win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000, he was playing in the Japanese League, which at that time was nowhere near a top league.
“It is not wise for Rohr to say that whoever plays in China is not fit to play for the Super Eagles. I believe that if Rohr sees a good Nigeria talent in the Chinese League, he would not shut him out of the national team.
“The truth of the matter is that the Chinese Super League offers the best competition for our players to become better in their trade. What is the use of staying on the bench of a team in Europe, wasting away, when you can play alongside top stars like Oscar, Lavezzi, Gervinho and Kalcuta”, said Elegbede.
Ideye began his career at Bayelsa United in 2006. A year after, he moved to Swiss second tier side Neuchatel Xamax, where he played two seasons before joining French squad Sochaux.
He then moved to Dynamo Kyiv in 2011, where his notable performances earned him a transfer to West Bromwich. After scoring only seven goals from 31 matches, Ideye moved to Greek side Olympiakos in 2015.
The Nigerian moved to China in February 2017 after an impressive goalscoring run for the Greek side, with 23 goals in 43 matches.
Ideye will hope that a bright performance with Los Boquerones will force his name in the Super Eagles World Cup squad.
He last featured for the Nigeria national team on November 12, 2016, in a 3-1 World Cup qualifier home victory over Algeria.
It, however, remains to be seen if Ideye can get his career back on track in Malaga to earn a national team recall.