Tue 19 Sep by Nick Said
Cape Town City’s capture of the experienced Nigerian winger Victor Obinna should be viewed as a major coup, even of the former Inter Milan and West Ham United star is palpably passed his best.The 30-year-old was persuaded to move to the Mother City by his new coach Benni McCarthy, who was a teammate of the Super Eagles star at West Ham, and could be a game-changer for TAB soccer pool players when they pick City results this season.Obinna was able to sign outside of the transfer window period as he was a free agent having left relegated German Bundesliga side SV Darmstadt 98 at the end of the last campaign.And McCarthy used his relegation with the player to move to the Premier Soccer League, where he has the potential to be a real star if he can stay fit and in form.Obinna has netted 12 goals in 46 internationals for Nigeria, though he has not played for the national team since 2013.During his heyday, he was known for his frightening pace and fierce shot, and he will add an extra element for the forward line of City as they seek a replacement for playmaker Lebogang Manyama, who has left for Konyaspor in Turkey.“He is a really good friend of mine, I know Victor from his days with the Nigerian national team when he used to be a striker partner to Obafemi Martins back then and obviously, when an African player signs for a team like Inter Milan, everybody knows about it and it was around about the time I was in England," McCarthy told reporters."So yeah, it is big news for African players when you get such an opportunity, but then I came across him at West Ham, that’s where we played together.“He was a bit young and I almost sort of took him under my wing because I was on my way out and he was in so, we just became friends and always kept in touch all these years and obviously I learnt that he was free and he doesn’t have a club."Of course, when you are in Europe why would you want to come to South Africa so I had to pursue him a little just to get himself back into football again. To my shock and surprise, he said – ‘why not, what do I have to lose?’”Obinna was born in Jos, Nigeria and spent his youth career with Plateau United, Kwara United and Enyimba, before being snapped up by Italian side Chievo in 2005.He had been set to join top Brazilian side Internacional, but the move collapsed over paperwork problems.After three successful seasons there he signed for Inter Milan, but struggled for game-time and was loaned out to Spanish LaLiga side Malaga and West Ham.He joined Lokomotiv Moscow on a permanent deal in 2011 and spent four seasons there, before moving to Germany and MSV Duisburg in 2015, and later SV Darmstadt.Obinna was captained of the Nigeria Under-23 side that won silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where they lost to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina in the final.