MARTINS TO LEAD NIGERIA ATTACK
NIGERIAN forward Obafemi Martins is among the African football stars who will grace our shores during the 2010 Fifa World Cup that kicks off in 10 days' time.
Martins is expected to lead the Super Eagles attack, which also comprises the formidable likes of Victor Obinna, Peter Odemwingie, Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Nwankwo Kanu.
The VFL Wolfsburg striker joined Nigerian football club FC Ebedei, having been scouted by manager Churchill Oliseh while playing on the streets of his hometown, Lagos.
After a year with the club Italian Serie C side AC Reggiana made a move for the player. After a two-month trial Martins and fellow Ebedei teammate Stephen Makinwa signed youth contracts with the club in 2000.
His first season in Italy saw Martins break into the first team squad, and later in the year Serie A sides Perugia and Inter made offers for the forward.
Martins has two brothers who are also professional soccer players. They are elder brother, Oladipupo Olarotini and younger brother John Ronan. The name Obafemi is Yoruba for "the king loves me".
Many football enthusiasts say "football loves him as much as he loves the game".
Martins is revered for his surging runs, using his blistering speed and pace to run past defenders as if they are standing still.
He used to run 100m in less than 11 seconds.
In 2006 Martins maintained his great form for Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations, where he helped the Super Eagles finish third after losing to Ivory Coast 1-0 in the semifinals.
His brilliant performances in the Africa Cup of Nations confirmed his status as arguably the best young striker around.
The Super Eagles open their Group B campaign of the World Cup against Diego Maradona's Argentina in Johannesburg on June 12, before taking on Greece in Bloemfontein five days later.
They wind up their group campaign against South Korea in Durban on June 22.
Soccer fundis believe that Martins and company have what it takes to take the Super Eagles to the next round of this most prestigious soccer spectacle.