Another of the players to come of age during Nigeria’s run to the final of the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands, defender Onyekachi Apam also won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing. Able to line up in the middle of the back-line or on the right, the 23-year-old has become a consistent performer with French side Nice, even being named captain. Clubs from around Europe have been eyeing the player, but his preference for staying in Ligue 1 means he could move to one of the giants of French football.
Although he was not a regular in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying, Apam did appear in the ultimate contest: the all-important, come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Kenya last November that allowed the Super Eagles to reach Africa’s first-ever finals. He was also in the team that finished third at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations this year, replacing Joseph Yobo against Benin when the Everton stalwart came off injured. He kept his spot in the re-worked back-line as the team shutout Mozambique and Zambia, but his late sending off against the Copper Bullets meant he missed the semi-final defeat to west African rivals Ghana. He came back for the third-place match as the Eagles defeated Algeria behind another scoreless defensive performance.
His performances at right back during the 2008 Cup of Nations were criticised, however the tournament was only a few months after he had been kidnapped at gunpoint in the Nigerian city of Enugu. He was released unharmed shortly after the abduction, and he was back in Nigeria’s good graces after a solid performance as a substitute in the 2009 friendly against Jamaica in London.