- The goal scoring record of late super eagles striker Rashidi Yekini is still intact
- The former African Footballer of the year passed away on May 4, 2002 in his home
- Yekini scored Nigeria's first ever goal at the World Cup against Bulgaria in USA 1994
Late Rashidi Yekini's legendary status as the most potent and prolific goal machine in the history of the Nigerian national team is surely not in doubt.
The Kwara-state born-football striker scored 52 goals for Nigeria in his 87 appearances.
Even in death, he is still AFCON's third highest goal scorer with 13 behind Ivory Coast's Laurent Pokou in second place has 14, while Cameroonian legend Samuel Eto'o has 18 goals at the competition.
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The search for Rashidi Yekini's heir has continued for over two decades years with no tangible result in sight. Who will fill the big gap left behind by Nigeria's king of goals?
This is a conundrum yet to be unpuzzled. No one knows whose feet will fit suitably into the boots left by the 1993 CAF player of the year.
Rashidi Yekini lived between October 23, 1963 to May 4, 2012. He might have died mysteriously, but his football story is what all aspiring Nigerian strikers should borrow a leaf from in order for them to get to the pinnacle of their career.
His prowess in front of goal keepers from his first African Cup of Nations in Morocco in 1988 to his last tournament in Tunisia in 1994 is worth remembering.
Below are five reasons no super eagles striker has been able to match his feat.
1. Poor quality of strikers
The likes of Obafemi Martins, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Ikechukwu Uche, Kanu Nwankwo, Victor Ikpeba, Raphel Chukwu Ndukwe, Michael Eneramo, Osaze Odewimghe, Victor Igali, Julius Aghahowa and the other retired Super Eagles strikers not mentioned here initially showed some flashes of scoring goals for fun not until their football playing career took a nose dive.
They all came, saw but never conquered. Since Yekini left the scene and died, the national team has been using on and off strikers who even find it difficult to play second fiddle in the respective foreign professional leagues they ply their trade.
Some of these players hardly get up to 10 minutes of playing time while some are perpetual unused substitutes.
2. Low spirit of patriotism
During Yekini's time, the spirit and passion of playing for the super eagles was very high. Every national team player was happy when he adorned the Green-White-Green colours of the senior team and rendered the national anthem.
The zeal then was next to non, compared to what we have now..
3. Inconsistency on the path of players
One Nigerian player whose national football playing career was short-lived is Emmanuel Emenike.
Emenike started on a good note especially during the 2013 African Cup of Nations in South Africa which Nigeria won but was not where to be found after the competition.
He called it quits with the national teal in 2016 after a fisticuffs with former coach Sunday Oliseh.
4. Frequent rift among strikers and coaches
Why did some former Nigerian strikers retire early? It was nothing more than a lack of communication between these players and the people who manage the super eagles.
A striker like Obafemi Martins who is still very much active would have been a perfect replacement.
It should also be noted that this problem has been a recurring decimal which has made the former Victoria of Setubal striker's record yet to be equalled not to talk of being surpassed.
5. Wrong selection due to monetary inducement
There are constant allegations that some national team coaches sacrifice merit for mediocrity all in the name of money.
An allegation of this type was rife during the coaching career of late Amodu Shuaibu. The former BCC Lions of Gboko coach was alleged to have always included Yakubu Aiyegbeni in his squad even when he was not playing well because the player often settled him monetarily.
Now that the country has a younger set of players captained by Mikel Obi, it could be possible that one of these lads could begin to bang-in the goals.
See clip of how the Super Eagles are preparing for the forthcoming AFCON and World Cup qualifiers