One of the single biggest revelations of the 2013 CAF Africa Cup of Nations for international observers, Sunday Mba has been a known quantity in the Nigeria Premier League for many years. A forward capable of occupying a midfield position, the 24-year-old has only emerged into a prominent international figure since the arrival of coach Stephen Keshi, who handed the player his debut at the start of 2012.
In what has become a recurring theme, Mba paid off the faith of the Big Boss by scoring goals, a brace in his second outing against Liberia. Similarly in the run-up to the AFCON earlier this year, Keshi kept faith with domestic-based players even as recognized international stars were left off his roster. It was Mba who popped up to score the winner against heavily favoured Côte d’Ivoire in the quarter-finals, and then did it again in the final against Burkina Faso.
Mba’s combination of skill, athleticism and grace under pressure led many to tip him for a quick move to Europe, but he instead switched from Warri Wolves to Enugu Rangers after a prolonged transfer saga that hurt some of his AFCON momentum. But come the FIFA Confederations Cup, don’t be surprised to see Keshi keep the faith with Mba.