Five outstanding Nigerian players at the Weekend
With the Super Eagles list of players invited for the game against Algeria set to be released sometime this week, a number of players shone to put themselves in the reckoning for Rohr’s team. While some are not in contention for a Super Eagles berth, their brilliance over the weekend caught the eye as they made our weekly list of outstanding Nigerian players.
There really isn’t a better time for Hapoel Be’er Sheva forward to get firing than this time. Nwakaeme who started off on the left of the Camel’s attack scored a beaut of a goal almost reminiscent his goal six days before against Maccabi Tel Aviv. It wasn’t Tony working his way to the shot this time, it was more instinctive, seeing a loose ball from Maor Melikson’s heavy touch, the forward ran up five yards to hit a perfectly-placed, low, first time shot form the edge of the box in the 63rd minute to put his team ahead. He put the icing on the cake six minutes to the end of regulation time when he and Melikson combined for an unorthodox one-two-three that had his teammate play a strong, low cross through a thicket of defenders. Tony took a touch with the cleat of his boot popping up the ball before he fired home.
The forward with three goals in his seven starts will hope to replicate such scoring form with the Super Eagles in a bid to join the squad to the World Cup in Russia.
Injuries have not been fair to Joel Obi. The midfielder worked his way to full fitness after a lengthy layoff to begin the Serie A season with Torino. Two games into the season, Obi was with a goal and an assist but injury struck unfortunately after 10 minutes into his third game of the season. The former Inter Milan player had to sit out 49 days due to the muscle injury. He returned to score the winner for his team against Cagliari over the weekend. Joel came on in the 56th minute replacing Afriye Acquah and he quickly got on in the action almost scoring few seconds after coming on. Obi looked lively all through his cameo, popping in the danger zone engaging in a number of goalmouth actions.
His most important action came ten minutes after he had come on. Cagliari’s goalkeeper Rafael stopped a shot at the near post with his foot but the ball rebounded off the inside of the crossbar to line up perfectly for the onrushing Obi to head in. The midfielder will hope to stay injury free as he builds his impressive substitute performance for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side.
Much-maligned Mikel Agu showed what made Gernot Rohr take a liking to him in Bursaspor’s 4-0 win over Antalyaspor . The midfielder was effervescent in the midfield and defensive third with a 90% pass completion rate from a team-high 72 passes while still posting three tackles and two interceptions. The former Porto player did score the game’s opener with his only touch in the box all game. Agu rose highest in the 37th minute to head home Pablo Batalla’s inswinging corner to set his team on the rout of Samuel Eto’o’s team.
The midfield has been a lynchpin in the Crocodiles’ midfield starting all of the team’s games snapping at heels and winning an impressive 3.6 tackles per game (Second in the League). Agu will, however, have to do more in the green of the Super Eagles to win over critics who continually question his inclusion in the National team.
There were three red cards, eight yellow cards and 33 fouls in Trabzonspor’s game against Galatasaray but incredibly Ogenyi Onazi who played in the midfield that saw 42% of the match action was without a foul. What made it even less believable was the fact that Onazi led the game in tackles with his eight tackles alongside four interceptions.
The defensive midfielder was instrumental in his team’s first victory in their last six games as he delivered a solid performance, covering huge distances across the midfield for the 89 minutes he was on. Onazi hardly putting a foot wrong against the best midfielder in the Turkish SuperLig, Fernando. The Nigerian midfielder will hope he is rewarded with his third consecutive start against Kayserispor as he continues on the path of redemption at Trabzonspor.
Olayinka got his goalscoring tally to five in a fortuitous manner. The 21-year old was on for the full duration of Zulte Waregem’s 2-1 win over KV Mechelen. Olayinka’s cross from the by-line on the left was intended for Sandy Walsh but it bounced off the turf into the net. The Nigerian who is on loan from Gent has proved a shrewd acquisition by Zulte Waregem with his contributions in goals and assists. The former 36 Lions player has seven assists this season from his 13 starts for Waregem.
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