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Outstanding Five: Iheanacho, Nwakali star over the weekend




Kelechi Iheanacho

Maybe this might be that break he so needed, the goal, that sparks things into life, that causes that long awaited chain of positive events. Iheanacho’s last goal in a league match was against West Ham U23 in September in the Premier League 2.

Finally he’s gotten off the mark for the Foxes in the Premier League. After he was sent on Claude Puel in the 60th minute in place of Shinji Okazaki, with the game still tied, Iheanacho made sure to impact he game just how Puel would have had in mind. This was the 12th time he was substituted on, but he made sure this was the one he made maximum impact.

Two minutes into his cameo, the 21-year old laid a brilliant assist for Mahrez to put Leicester City ahead. Kelechi held the ball calmly outside the box, head up assessing his options , then he spotted Mahrez’s run. Iheanacho chipped a sumptuous and perfectly weighed pass over the defence for Riyad Mahrez to latch onto to lob the goalkeeper.

He wasn’t done just yet, he’s had a Premier League assist for Leicester before. He was going to scratch away and banish the goalless duck. It happened in the 76th minute courtesy Ben Chilwell. The left back floated a cross into West Brom’s box for Iheanacho to power home a header that was too strong for Ben Foster’s palm. Iheanacho sunk to his knees right in the box, finger to his chest, then to his lips and then pointed upwards in acknowledgement of the heavens. Monkey’s off of his back, Duck’s broken.

Kelechi Nwakali

It didn’t go so well for Nwakali at VVV Venlo, he was limited and found chances hard to come by. The Arsenal loanee had to leave the Dutch side after only three starts and nine games, it certainly would not have helped his development if he had stayed. Arsenal loaned him back to familiar grounds at MVV Maastricht in the second division of the Dutch League system, where he prospered last season, again the 19-year old is showing marked improvements from his Venlo days and over the weekend he has a brace to boot.

Already with 601 minutes under his belt compared to the 295 minutes he had during his ill-fated four months at Venlo, Nwakali looks brighter and more confident with his use of the ball. His first goal in his second stint at Maastricht was instinctive, the former U-17 player curled a first-time shot into the net from outside the box in the 23rd minute.

Again in the 39th minute, Nwakali tried another shot from outside the area but it was blocked.

Nwakali was central to the attacking play of the Jupiler league side, receiving the ball from deep before gallantly moving with it upfield.

He scored another brilliant goal from outside the box, three minutes after the break. Nwakali ran the ball from the inside left channel , he bested a defender with a reverse step-over, cut into his right foot before rifling an unstoppable shot into the top corner. In seven matches, Nwakali does looks once again like that confident teenager who has the world at his feet.

Afeez Aremu

Aremu announced himself to the Eliteserien (Norwegian League) with a goal on his debut. Aremu joined IK Start after the WAFU cup where he shone brightly. After a month at Inter Allies, the sister club of IK Start in Ghana, Aremu went straight into the Starts starting list. The former Akwa United midfielder scored his sides fourth goal in the 90th minute before Morten Gamst Pedersen got a consolation goal for Tromsoe almost immediately afterwards.

The 18-yer old’s goal was a stunner: a fierce shot from 40 yards that swerved and dipped to leave the goalkeeper wrong-footed.

Samuel Kalu

Kalu made it six goals in the Belgian Jupiler League for Gent over the weekend. The 20-year old has grown in prominence in the team, commanding a slot in the starter’s line up, filling the right hand of attack as his compatriot Moses Simon fills the left side. Against Genk he was more instrumental than his more feted colleague, providing an assist and scoring a goal.

The winger crossed a free-kick from deep onto the head of his teammate Birger Verstraete to give Gent the lead. Kalu scored Gent’s second goal when he poked home a loose ball from a counter attack.

Joseph Akpala

Though his side was on the losing end after going two goals ahead, Akpala was still immense for Oostende. The 31-year old, ever unfussy, simply fired a cut back into the roof of the net to put Oostende two goals ahead on the stroke of half time. He had a hand in the first goal, simply rolling the ball out from the edge of the box to Fernando Canesin in the 27th minute.

The second half was all Standard Liege, they came out in their droves pumped and were all over Oostende who barely had a foot in the game in the second half. Akpala is with six goals in the league with his club placed 11th on the Jupiler League table.

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