Gernot Rohr’s decision to call up Isaac Success to the Nigeria squad in place of Simeon ‘Simy’ Nwankwo appears to show two things.
One, it shines a little more light onto the German’s thoughts about a long term replacement for the centre-forward role currently being filled by Odion Ighalo.
Secondly, it gives Success another opportunity to annex the Super Eagles shirt and hold onto it, possibly for good.
To start with, Rohr has consistently — some might say stubbornly — stuck to a 4-3-3 formation with a battering-ram striker when it is obvious that Nigeria’s best matches under him have been while playing with variations of 3-5-2, with two forwards.
In pursuit of that objective, strikers like Ighalo, Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Osimhen, Anthony Ujah, Ahmed Musa and Nwankwo have all been invited and some given opportunities in the central striking role flanked by two wide forwards.
Still, goals have been hard to come by. Ighalo has been favoured over the last year but doubts have crept in after a less than stellar World Cup. Plus, at 29, Ighalo is on the wrong end of the German’s age bar for his team.
At 22, and with his prodigious talent, Success would appear to be the perfect fit for the position. He has got all the tools. The pace is there along with phenomenal upper body strength and excellent link-up play, not to mention goals when he is fit, undistracted and firing.
However, that right there is what the trouble is. At the moment, Success already sounds like a veteran with an attitude for whom international football time is gradually running out.
That is not true because he is still in the early years of what could potentially be an amazing career, once the injuries and controversies — which have hampered his development all the way from cadet level — get out the way.
The undoubted star of Nigeria’s under-17 team which went to the 2013 FIFA World Cup (after scoring seven goals in seven appearances); Success was then sidelined after just two games of the tournament in the United Arab Emirates — allowing both Kelechi Iheanacho and Taiwo Awoniyi to snag the spotlight.
A move to Granada followed, and although his goal-scoring record in Spain was not extraordinary, it was par for the course for a young player and Success looked on the way to great things. In fact, it was that potential which Watford saw when they broke the club transfer record fee (£12.5-million) to sign him in mid-2016.
But he has struggled since then, with controversies at both club and international level. At Watford, he was arrested for off-field activities.
Then, when he was first called up for Nigeria, Success did not show up. The official reason was that he picked up an injury. The unofficial reason was that he had had a disagreement with the federation over flight arrangements.
Those troubles, and injuries cost him his form and he was sent out on loan back to Spain at Malaga for the second-half of last season. He seemed to rediscover himself there, even if he failed to score, and has subsequently had a good pre-season which got him back into the shape that made him such a coveted teenager.
Success has been involved in almost every match for Watford this season, even though most of those have been from the bench. He appears to be getting his act together and if he keeps on the straight and narrow, could end up playing a decisive role not just in Watford’s Cinderella run, but could well be the one missing piece to finally make Rohr’s master plan come together.
And there can be no more room for error.