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Outstanding Five: Obafemi Martins bags three, Aaron Samuel scores


Shanghai SIPG’s Shi Ke (L) fights for the ball with Shanghai Shenhua’s Obafemi Martins during their Chinese FA Cup football match in Shanghai on November 19, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / STR / China OUT

Sadiq Umar goes from zero to hero-ish while Martins throw his hat in the Super Eagles ring with a hat-trick over the weekend. Here are the outstanding five Nigerian players over the weekend:

Obafemi Martins

First start in the Chinese Super League this season and it brings a return of three goals, Obafemi Martins will be right to feel he should have had a run in the side in the first three games. Against Gervinho and Ezequiel Lavezzi, the Nigerian forward showed to be the more clinical striker on show.

It didn’t exactly look that way when Martins air-kicked in the 15th minute, failing to connect to a low cross that picked him out at the back post. It took till the 62nd minute before Obagoal rippled the net, receiving a slide rule pass that went through two defenders before angling a shot into the top corner from close range.

He scored his second in a spectacular fashion in the 76th minute. Martins scored an acrobatic volley after the goalkeeper spilled a save into his path. Martins wasn’t done yet, scoring Shanghai Shenhua’s fourth goal in the 90th minute. The goal courted a bit of controversy but it was smoothed out by the all-seeing VAR. The 33-year old rounded a move, finishing his team-mate’s cut-back. The player appeared to have nicked the ball after it crossed the byline but after some consultations with the VAR, the cross and subsequently the goal was deemed legal.

Martins will hold out hope that this sparks a series of good performances that perhaps puts him in the contention for a role with the Super Eagles at the 2018 World Cup.


Aaron Olanare

After a loan move from CSKA Moscow, Aaron Samuel has finally opened his scoring account for his new side Amkar Perm.

In his third match for the Red and Blacks, the powerful forward scored a brace with one of the goals coming from the spot.

The 23-year old stepped up three minutes after the break to send the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot. He furthered his strong performance with a cheeky goal in the 59th minute. Olanare produced a heeled flick at the near post from Petar Zanev’s cross to score his second goal for Amkar Perm.

Hilary Gong

Hillary Gong was twice on target for his side as they defeated Žilina in the Slovak Football League playoff match.

The 19 year-old smartly finished a counterattacking move by AS Trencin, sweeping home at the backpost in the 41st minute to score his side’s third.

The former GBS Academy player scored his second of the night when a searching ball from deep found him on the right side of the attack. Gong drove the ball towards goal, dribbled past defender with an exquisite chop before firing into the bottom corner at the near post. The strike took gongs tally to six goals in 23 games in the Fortuna Liga.

Umar Sadiq

Umar Sadiq had a bittersweet weekend scoring at both ends in his team’s loss to PSV Eindhoven. It was crushing for the youngster when Daniel Schwaab’s header from a corner went off Sadiq’s chest into the net.

The Roma loanee who is enjoying a new lease of life at NAC Breda picked himself up, working the channels while excelling with his movement with the ball. He profited though from lurking in the attacking third when he pounced on Nicolas Isimat-Mirin poor pass to his goalkeeper. Sadiq was unerring moving the ball towards goal before drilling the ball home through the goalkeeper’s legs. The lanky forward now has four goals in eight matches.

Joel Obi

Joel Obi made sure to keep the conversation about him with his goal against Cagiliari. After a so-so performance with the Super Eagles which still hasn’t guaranteed him a spot in the Nigerian team, the Torino midfielder scored 10 minutes into his cameo. After replacing Iago Falque, Obi made sure to put a definitive punctuation mark to close the scoring. It looked definitely offside when the Nigerian tapped home a cross from Andrea Belotti. Obi’s celebration was less than muted envisaging the assistant referee had waved the flag. The referee had to do an on-field review of the incident then whistled afterwards that Obi’s goal was to stand.

It continued the mini-renaissance of the midfielder this season at Torino after silencing his injury demons and getting extended playing time.

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