Afcon 2013: Meet Sunday Mba - the man who sent Drogba and Gervinho packing

Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle can all welcome back some of their key men after midfielder Sunday Mba scored the winner for the Super Eagles in the AFCON 2013 quarter final match-up with The Elephants of Ivory Coast on Sunday. So who is he?

Last night the African Nations Cup once again witnessed the early exit of its perennial underachievers Cote d’Ivoire after Nigeria sent them packing at the quarter final stage. Once again The Elephants entered the competition as overwhelming favourites but lost out to opposition they were expected to deal with comfortably.

For Didier Drogba it means his dream of winning an Afcon trophy in his career has been left in tatters as he privately admits he will not feature at the 2015 event in Morocco.

So who is the man that has sent the likes of Drogba, Yaya Toure and Gervinho on an early flight home from South Africa?

His name is Sunday Mba and he is a very highly rated midfielder still plying his trade in the Nigerian football league system.

He and Godfrey Oboabona have excelled in the fixtures where they have figured under Stephen Keshi which has brought the Nigerian Premier League (NPL) under the spotlight for the talent at its disposal. This impact was commended by Richard Ochheayi, goalkeeper with NPL side Shooting Stars:

"The home based players too have done the domestic league a lot of good and no one can fault Keshi's decision to give some of the home lads a chance. Oboabona and Sunday Mba really made my day against Cote D'Ivoire and in their previous matches too. We are through to the semi-final and we have made many Nigerians within and outside the country to shut their mouths.’’ 

In the past Nigerian youngsters have been snapped up so young that seeing Nigerian based players in the national team has become something of a foreign concept, if you will excuse the obvious paradox.

For Sunday Mba his goal will certainly earn him plenty of plaudits and admirers but what can we tell you about him?

Here is a quick five-fact-file on the 24-year-old.

1. Mba is the first player from Nigeria’s domestic league to score at the Afcon for the Super Eagles since Uche Okechukwu of Iwuanyanwu Nationale at the 1990 edition in Algeria.

2. He started his footballing education at the Pepsi Football Academy in Nigeria. Other famous names to have studied there include John Obi Mikel, Uwa Echiejile and Joseph Akpala.

3. He has had something of a journeyman’s career in his homeland playing for Enyimba, Enugu Rangers (both twice) and Port Harcourt Dolphins before signing for current team Warri Wolves in 2010.

4. However he is currently involved in a contract wrangle between his current club and Enugu Rangers over a potential move back to his old club.

5. After his winning goal against Ivory Coast he has been given the nickname ‘Ogbuenyi’ in Nigeria; this translates to ‘Elephant Slayer’.

And here is his famous goal…

image: © niyyie

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