Arsenal’s victory in the English Premiership and FA Cup was aided by the contribution of two African players.
Lauren Etame Mayer of Cameroon and Kanu Nwankwo of Nigeria were in the Arsenal squad that beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford, securing them the Premiership title.
While both players have had differing fortunes this season, both have done a lot for the positive image of the African game.
Lauren has been a revelation during the second part of Arsenal’s season, after replacing Oleg Luzhny in defence.
The Cameroonian’s spell in defence coincided with the Gunners’ fantastic run of form – 12 games unbeaten and conceding only one goal.
Preventing prowling attackers from putting goals in the Arsenal net is only one of Lauren’s strong points.
His offensive skills have been instrumental to Arsenal’s success.
Lauren’s goal against Spurs maintained the Gunner’s run of form
Lauren scored a late winner against arch-rivals Tottenham, keeping his team in the hunt for the Premiership title at a crucial stage of the season.
He scored a penalty, giving Arsenal vital points at a time when other title contenders began to falter.
The versatile Cameroon international has been a key player for manager Arsene Wenger and is likely to make a strong impression at the World Cup.
In contrast to Lauren who adds Arsenal’s Premiership and FA Cup double his African Nations Cup title, Kanu Nwankwo has suffered from indifferent form .
The Nigerian has been in short supply of the breathtaking skill that made him the toast of English football n his first two seasons at the club.
Despite his occasional appearance in the first team, Kanu remains part of Wenger’s plans.
He has been playing the role of a key substitute throughout the season.
Although Kanu has only scored five goals this season, some have been crucial, like his winner against West Ham United.
Playing alongside Austin « Jay-Jay » Okocha and Julius Aghahowa, he could play a key role at the World Cup with Nigeria’s Super Eagles.