Bartholomew Ogbeche and four other outstanding Nigerian players at the weekend
A hat-trick from the Dutch Eredivisie, a redemption-ish story, a Nigerian scoring double act at Turkey and Belgium, and a trophy won by a brilliant finish. Nigerian players burnt brightly from the weekend but here are the most outstanding five.
Ogbeche scored a stunning hat-trick to earn his side Willem a draw in the Dutch Eredivisie. The first was a stroke of luck when his team-mate’s shot came off his left boot. Ismail Azzaoui volleyed shot from a headed clearance hit the 33-year old on its way to goal before it hit the shin of another Venlo player. If the first had some form of inadvertency, Ogbeche’s second was every bit deliberate. With his team down by two goals in the 74th minute, the former Cambuur striker rose highest to place a header into the bottom corner despite a pressuring defender. Willem’s equalizer and Ogbeche’s hat-trick came in the 92nd minute.
The striker could not get a touch to a cross that was floated in from the right which resulted to Azzaoui getting the ball at the left side in the box, Ogbeche reacted quickest to stab home his team-mate’s ensuing cross. The former Lobi Stars player who just returned from a Cruciate Ligament injury last month already has four goals from his four games played in the league this season. Ogbeche who was part of Nigeria’s 2002 World Cup squad has not added to his five international caps since he played his last game in the World Cup qualifier in 2004 against Gabon.
After scoring in the first leg of the Chinese FA Cup final to give Shanghai Shenhua the advantage, Obafemi Martins continued his scoring act to hand Shenhua their first Chinese FA Cup since 1998. His goal was one of sheer quality as Shenhua actually lost the game to rivals Shanghai SIPG but won the trophy on away goal as the aggregate stood at 3-3. Martins got his third goal in the FA Cup in the 68th minute when he got a long ball in his stride in the right-hand channel, the striker checked in beat two of his markers who inexplicably seemed to back off. When the angle seemed right, the former Inter Milan striker curled in a peach of a strike past the goalkeeper from outside the area to spark wild celebrations. His included a front-flip, a no-handed back-flip and a backward roll. Martins had 7 goals in 13 games for Shenhua in the concluded Chinese Super League
Ten clearances, no tackle, two aerial duels won, one dribble doesn’t really tell the tale. The tale in all of its epos was when Omeruo sprung off his feet in the 90th minute not defending a set-piece but in the opponent’s box with the game at 1-1. After his team-mate and compatriot, Emem Eduok had put Kasimpasa ahead, substitute Amir Hadziahmetovic scored Konyaspor’s equalizer from the edge of the box after he wasn’t closed down early enough.
In the 90th minute, Kasimpasa were awarded a free-kick about forty yards from goal and expectedly the box was packed in anticipation of the set-piece, the kicker passed the ball to Strahil Popov so as to get a better angle for the cross, Popov’s cross was floated into the box where Omeruo leapt gloriously to head Kasimpasa’s winner. The defender has established himself as a mainstay in the defence after he had a spell out on the bench at the beginning of the season. He has completed the 90 in Kasimpasa’s last eight games in the Turkish Super Lig.
November has been an absolutely blessed month for Emem Eduok. The forward has seen an upshot in his form and has been prolific in front of goal. Maybe not the eminent level of scoring six in a game as he did for Dolphins against Nembe City three years ago in the Nigeria Professional Football League but three goals in three games and two man-of-the-match performances are impressive for the man that had gone eight games without a goal prior to his purple patch. Against Konyaspor over the weekend Emem opened the scoring in the 12th minute and was a thorny presence in Konyaspor’s defence.
His goal was a well-worked team move with an excellent slide-rule pass from Markus Neumayr to Eduok in the box, the forward took two touches to line the ball up before he side-footed a shot past the goalkeeper. The forward also weighed in with healthy five interceptions in the fixture as well as four shots in the fixture. Emem’s upturn in form has coincided with his positional change, the 23-year old who led the line as a central striker now plays on the left side of Kasimpasa’s attack.
Uche Agbo certainly has Guillermo Ochoa to thank after the goalkeeper saved Siebe Schrijvers penalty. Agbo who plays as a defensive midfielder in Standard Liege was adjudged to have fouled Clinton Mata with a sliding tackle. The referee Jan Visser had to look at the video monitors and consult with the Video Assistant Referees (VAR) to make the penalty decision.
The Super Eagles player made his luck in the 81st minute when his powerful volley clocked at 123km/hr rippled the net to extend his team’s lead against Genk. The shot looked unstoppable and had Chelsea goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois who was sat in the stands been between the sticks, he wouldn’t have been able to save the strike. Agbo has played in all of Standard’s 16 games in the Belgian League this season as the team occupies the 6th spot on the log.