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The Chelsea youngster at the heart of Nigeria's World Cup defence

Kenneth Omeruo
kicks off his World
Cup campaign against Iran
Chelsea signed Omeruo
from Standard Liege in 2012
Omeruo starred on loan for
Middlesbrough this year
The main worry for Nigeria over the
past week has not been how on
earth they're going to deal with
Lionel Messi and Co in Group F,
but that Kenneth Omeruo might
succumb to a knee injury.
A collective sigh of relief was
breathed all round when the 20-
year-old Chelsea youngster was
confirmed fit to start for the Super
Eagles in their World Cup bow
against Iran.
Although set to win just his 18th
cap for Nigeria on Monday evening,
Omeruo’s assured performances at
in the middle of defence have seen
him emerge as a crucial element to
their plans.
Only ten days after his
international debut last year,
Omeruo made his name by
performing admirably in every
match in Nigeria’s acclaimed run
to winning the African Nations
Since then, he’s been a mainstay
in the side, helped immeasurably
by his loan spell at Middlesbrough
last season, able to operate at
centre-half or right-back.
Far from being forgotten about
while in the north east, parent
club Chelsea awarded him a new
contract last month to keep him at
Stamford Bridge until 2018.
Plucked from Standard Liege by the
Blues in January 2012, Omeruo had
to wait until two years – via a loan
spell at Dutch side ADO Den Haag
– for his debut in English football.
Boro used manager Aitor Karanka’s
Real Madrid connection with Jose
Mourinho to secure the services of
Omeruo on loan until the end of
the season.
Once the Nigerian got his chance,
he became a regular fixture for the
mid-table side, often featuring
alongside fellow Chelsea loanee
Nathaniel Chalobah.
His uncomplicated style, strength
and a level composure belying his
lack of experience make him a solid
presence at the back, particularly
when dealing with the rigours of
Championship forwards.
These qualities are underpinned
by a great pace, leading many to
think he has what it takes to step
up to a higher level.
The World Cup will test that on the
biggest stage imaginable. With the
Iran clash the least troubling of
the opening matches, few expect
Nigeria to reach the last-16 at the
expense of Bosnia or Argentina.
In players like Edin Dzeko and
Miralem Pjanic, Omeruo will face
the biggest test of his career on
Saturday, at least until Wednesday
week, when he’ll be tasked with
keeping the world’s best attacking
talent at bay..
Even if Nigeria don’t make it
through, Omeruo’s performances
will be watched carefully by club
boss Jose Mourinho.
With Tomas Kalas – so assured in
his Premier League debut at
Anfield – joining the hordes of
Chelsea players on loan by signing
up with Bundesliga new boys
Cologne, there is a place at centre-
half available in Chelsea’s squad
for next season.
If Omeruo continues his rise in
Brazil, Mourinho will find his
designs on the spot hard to ignore.

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Posted By bobricky On 06:16 Mon, 16 Jun 2014

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