Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi has shown himself to be very astute when it comes to picking unheralded players for the Super Eagles. Given the huge number of Nigerian professionals plying their trade throughout European leagues, it would not be surprising if locally-based players failed to find their way into the national team-set up. Not so, however, with Keshi and the second man to win the continental showpiece both as captain and coach, has continued along his chosen path of giving Nigerian-based players a chance in the national team - irrespective of the risks.
One of the locally-based players who has been a regular feature in Keshi's call-ups is defender Francis Benjamin and the 19-year-old received his first cap against Niger in August last year. His club form was impressive as he helped Owerri-based Heartland FC to victory in the Federation Cup. He was also called up for Nigeria's final preparations for the Nations Cup in South Africa. Although he was dropped from the final squad for the tournament, Benjamin did enough to impress Keshi to stay in contention.
Benjamin, who plays on the left and loves going forward and unleashing powerful shots, was on the bench for Nigeria's 2014 World Cup Brazil™ qualifier against Kenya in March and then made the 23-player squad for a friendly against Mexico, two FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the FIFA Confederations Cup.