One of the key decisions often made by football managers is picking the player to lead the rest of the lads out in battles and more often such decision can either make or mar the fortune of any team.
But the choice of Musa Muhammed initially as captain of Nigeria’s 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup winning team (Golden Eaglets) and later for the U-20 team (Flying Eagles) according to coach Manu Garba, was no accident.
“I picked Musa as captain for the U-17 team based on a personal conviction that he has the quality to lead the team and also because he combines names of two inspired prophets- Musa and Muhammed,” Garba said in his typical philosophical hue.
Musa has indeed turned out to be a leader in the true sense of the word and his exemplary performance has practically rubbed off on the rest of the team. He plays in the defensive line but with an uncommon gusto which sees him surging forward in search of goals.
A dead ball specialist, he tellingly showed how good he can be by curling a sublime free-kick into the top corner for Nigeria’s third and the final goal in the 3-0 thrashing of Mexico in the final of the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup that sealed the Golden Eaglets’ record fourth title. The right-back was also the top scorer with four goals at the Orange African U-20 Youth Championship in Senegal where he led the Flying Eagles to conquer the continent in a blistering fashion last March.
“I can play at the right full back or in the central defensive position, but I’m more comfortable in the right back because it allows me to join my teammates in the attack,” Musa told Cafonline.com.
“I always focus on what the coaches have been telling me about (getting into the) scoring position and that is what has been helping me to score all the time.”
The 18-year old is the kind of player that doesn’t do anything at half measure and he noted that constant practice has helped horned his skill, revealing his fond admiration for Carles Puyol, the former Barcelona’s captain known for his offensive style.
“Yes, it is true some people call me captain fantastic. I’m happy being the captain of the Flying Eagles but it is not an easy thing because of the challenges and tough matches we are playing.
“When I joined the U-17 team, I did not expect being made the captain and I’m grateful to coach Garba who is like a father to all of us for also making me the Flying Eagles captain; it is an honour.
“I always practice taking free kicks and penalty kicks in training; sometimes I’m tired but when I think about the responsibility that is on my shoulder, I work harder,” he maintained
Second child in a family that has four other brothers, the defender said his focus now is the FIFA U-20 World Cup which kicks off on Saturday in New Zealand.
On the eve of the team’s departure from their training camp in Germany where they beat the youth sides of German clubs,- Hoffenheim, Nuremberg and Freiburg in test matches; Muhammed was upbeat about the chances of the African champions.
The Flying Eagles would open their account in New Zealand with a top of the drawer encounter against old foes, Brazil, but he was never going to be intimidated, saying they have what it takes to go all the way.
“We have a good chance and our aim in New Zealand is to win the cup and make names for ourselves and the country,” said Musa who was decorated with a national honour (Member of the Order of Niger) along with his teammates following the FIFA U-17 World Cup triumph.
“I’m confident because of the type of players that we have and we are all focussed. Insha Allah (by the grace of Allah) we are going to win all our matches even against Brazil and others teams at the World Cup.
“We play as a team and personally, Wilfred Ndidi and Taiwo Awoniyi gives me so much confidence that we can do it.
“Coach Manu is a great coach and we look up to him like our father because he always advises us on how to be good in all aspect of life.
“What makes me happy? Is to see that we win all our games,” Musa sounded off.
Senegal, Ghana and Mali complete the African quartet for the tournament that runs till 20 June 2015.
*Culled from cafonline.com