ABUJA – Flying Eagles’ coach Manu Garba on Thursday in Abuja said former Golden Eaglets star striker Kelechi Iheanacho was capable of playing for any team in the world.
Garba told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Iheanacho was a world-class material, saying he was not surprised by his performance for Manchester City FC in a pre-season tie.
The Nigerian under-20 forward crowned a five-star display for Manchester City in his debut senior team appearance with a superb goal in a 4-1 pre-season win.
The win was against Sporting Kansas City on July 24 in the U.S.
Iheanacho was also voted best player at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the UAE, where he scored six goals in seven matches for Nigeria.
Following his success, the 17-year-old signed a pre-contract agreement with Manchester City early in February and was expected to join the club fully when he turns 18.
The transfer fee was reported to be about £250,000, with a further £300,000 paid to Taye Academy in Owerri, where he began his football career, and £350,000 to Iheanacho’s father.
“I am not surprised at all by what Iheanacho has shown because, if given the chance, he can play for any team in the world.
“He already has the technique to flourish at the highest level and the only thing the more established players at City could have over him is experience,’’ said Garba, who is Iheanacho’s coach at both the under-17 and under-20 levels.
Garba said Iheanacho’s biggest asset was his composure and clinical finishing around the box.
“At his age, his finishing around the box puts him in a class of his own. He usually scores five goals during our training sessions.
“Once you give him the space and allow him to control the ball around the goal area, he can convert three of the five chances he gets. He is that good,’’ the coach said.
He also said he believes Iheanacho’s performance against Kansas City will improve his self-belief.
“His recent performance for his club will give him even more confidence to step up his game,” the Flying Eagles coach said.
The Flying Eagles will host Lesotho in a 2015 African Youth Championship (AYC) final qualifying round fixture in August.
Garba said he expects Iheanacho to rejoin the team at least two weeks to the August 16 clash.
“We have told Manchester City that we need the player back with us at least two weeks before our qualifier.
“However, if that is not possible, we can still have him a week before the game as long as he is playing regularly for his club,” he said.(NAN)