Five outstanding Nigerian players over the weekend
It was a weekend of braces (not that one) for some Nigerian players from different leagues around the world. In our weekly series, we detail the five players who stood out this weekend especially with two goals to boot.
The former Super Eagles striker scored a brace in Gimanastic de Tarragona’s 5-1 win over Cordoba just four days after he had scored a brace against Granada in the Segunda division of the Spanish Liga. His first displayed his predatory movement and unerring finishing that saw him score 19 goals for the Super Eagles. Uche peeled off into the space behind the defenders to receive a pass, he took a touch to set up the shot before he angled a strike into the corner of the net with his left foot, all in the first minute of the game.
His second goal highlighted his striking instincts, in line with the opposition defence line, the striker awaited a pass in behind to latch onto, but his teammate elected to shoot 30 yards from goal, Uche still ran ahead towards goal assured that there was the possibility of the goalkeeper spilling the shot, the keeper did spill the shot and Uche was on hand with a beautiful left-footed chip over the goalkeeper bearing down on the striker. It was the fifth goal in eight games for the former Villareal striker.
While his performance over Zambia wasn’t exactly A-grade, Ighalo proved a handful for the Guizhou Zhicheng defenders. The Super Eagles striker outmuscled a defender to power a header that the goalkeeper saved but found tricky. His first goal eventually came via a header, the Changchun Yatai forward headed in via a teammate’s headed flick from a corner in the 50th minute.
He got his brace of goals in the 91st minute where he bamboozled two defenders who wrongly judged the flight of a ball over the top, Ighalo raced clear on goal rounded the goalkeeper before placing the ball past a back-tracking defender trying to guard the post. Ighalo has done a good job shouldering the goalscoring burden of the team, he has 14 goals from 25 games this season.
Six goals in his last six league matches, Onyekuru is becoming a verified goal-getter for Anderlecht. The forward timed his run excellently got to Sofiane Hanni’s threaded pass ahead of his teammate Łucaszk Teodorczyk, took a good look at the goalkeeper, he seemed to freeze the moment in his mind, figuring the perfect way to place the ball past the goalkeeper, unfrozen he found the perfect spot to place his shot, goalkeeper’s near post before he slid off on his knees in celebration.
A Thierry Henry styled goal and a celebration for the man who wears ‘Henry’ at the back of his jersey. The second was from a switch of play to the left wing where Onyekuru occupied, he brought the diagonal down with his left foot, took on the defender, dropped a shoulder, cut in a second time leaving two defenders in his wake before he rifled into the top corner. The 20-year-old will certainly hope to replicate such a performance against PSG this midweek.
Ejike is the least known player on the list, playing in the Scandinavia in the Norwegian League with eighth-placed Valerenga. The winger was unplayable in Valerenga’s 5-1 victory over Aaelsund on Sunday. Ejike got on the brace act to earn a place on the list.
The winger’s first goal was an intelligent piece of artwork, casually leaving a defender on the floor as he shifted the ball inwards from the left before he delivered an exquisite finish, unorthodoxly shooting into the near post to the left instead of hitting a curler into the right post. The winger was a menace for the Aalesund defence with his pace, close control and dynamism on the ball. He later showed scoring a curler wasn’t beyond him, beautifully curling in a shot that went off the inside of the post. He received the pass in space at the left and conjured the peach with no back lift.
The 19-year-old who is referred to as the Nigerian Iniesta has three goals this season from 11 matches. Ejike has played for the Nigerian U17 and U20 youth teams and he had trials with Liverpool a year before he moved to Valerenga, he did feature for Gombe United in the Nigerian League before his trials.
It took a mere three minutes for the substitute Samuel Kalu to open the scoring in Gent’s game against Waasland-Beveren. Kalu came off the bench in the 66th minute to break the deadlock before he added another five minutes before time.
Kalu who has come off the bench four times this season showed quick instincts to get his first goal in the match after a brilliant work by compatriot Moses Simon. Simon, mesmeric with the ball cut in past two defenders from the left and fired a shot from the edge of the box. The shot hit the upright, ricocheted off the goalkeeper before Kalu reacted quickest to help the ball past the line.
Kalu’s second goal also had a very Nigerian feel to it with Simon at the heart of it again. Simon earned free kick after a shirt pull on him while he was busy frustrating defenders with the nigh impudence of his tricks. Simon took the freekick, planting the ball on the head of Kalu who stooped slightly to loop a header into the back post. Kalu without a Nigerian call-up has three goals from three starts this season for Gent.
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