Five outstanding Nigerian players last weekend
In this week’s instalment of the outstanding five Nigerian players from the weekend, four Super Eagles players make the list while an uncapped forward tearing up the Danish League completes the stand-out five.
After serving an assist and hitting the post last week, Moses Simon got on the score sheet for his Belgian club side KAA Gent in the Jupiler League. Simon opened his Jupiler League goal account in the 1-1 draw against Kortrijk on Saturday. The lively winger had gone close in the first half hitting a shot inches away from the post. Simon received a pass at the edge of the box on the left, took on a defender, checked in to shoot. His shot, unfortunately, didn’t have enough curl on it as it flashed wide of the goalkeeper’s post.
Simon’s style seemed to involve committing defenders, cutting in before unleashing a shot but for his goal showed he wasn’t a one-trick pony. The Nigeria International opened his body to receive a switching pass from the right, cushioned the pass with his left foot, didn’t bother to check in to his favourite right foot when he thundered a strike across into the net on the hour mark. Though Herve Kage cancelled out his goal in the 74th minute for Kortrijk, the winger would feel a return to the top form that put him on the radar of Tottenham and Brighton and Hove Albion.
After getting the stick for his red card against Troyes, Awaziem has matured into a calm, clear-headed defender. From a defensive point, the Nigerian won 100% of his tackles attempted and won all three of his aerial duels in Nantes 2-1 victory over Guingamp. He could do nothing to stop Guingamp’s goal as Abdoul Camara raced clear of his team-mate Koffi Djidji to end any hopes of a sixth clean sheet for Nantes. Awaziem has steadily established himself as an important figure in Claudio Ranieri’s third-placed team. The defender has featured in eight of Nantes ten Ligue 1 games, missing a game due to suspension.
Even before he got his tackling game on, the 20-year old had delivered a blow to the opponents with his headed goal in the 9th minute. His first goal for Nantes came from Leo Dubois’ corner. Under pressure from Guingamp defender, Franck Tabanou, Awaziem glanced a header to the far post to hand Nantes an early lead. After impressing with Nantes it is expected that the defender starts the game against Algeria for the Super Eagles in a bid to audition for his place in the team to Russia after his horrid performance against South Africa affected his chances.
Ighalo makes the list consecutively after his goal against Jiangsu Suning. The forward after his brace last week against Guizhou Zhicheng got on the score sheet and assisted Du Zhenyu to Chanchung Yatai’s third goal. The 28-year old delivered a man of the match performance in the 3-1 defeat of Jiangsu Suning. After Benjamin Moukandjo put Suning ahead in the 1st minute, Ighalo provided a response to the Cameroonian’s goal a minute before the half-hour mark. Ighalo side-footed volley from a neat build-up opened up the game with two more goals. Focused on the task, Ighalo jettisoned celebrating his 15th goal of the season, went immediately for the ball to place it in the centre circle for Fabio Capello’s side to get the game back on. There still are doubters of his ability to lead the line for the Super Eagles but over in the Chinese Super League, Ighalo is a legit superstar.
Ebuehi gave a superlative performance at right back in Ado Den Haag’s win over VVV Venlo. The 21-year old bossed the game with a cerebral performance that involved three interceptions, an assist and a game-high 88 touches, 77 passes and three successful take-ons. His Man-of-the-match performance saw the Storks funnel their attack through the right with Ebuehi offering the needed width to stretch the opposition defence. Ebuehi darted in ahead Leroy Labylle into the box to ping a perfect cross for Erik Falkenburg to volley home for Ado Den Haag’s first goal. The Nigerian who is yet to make his competitive debut for the Super Eagles is likely to get his chance against Algeria in the dead rubber tie. If he does produce this sort of performance in Green and White of Nigeria, his chances of getting to the World Cup in Russia is greatly improved, if not certain.
There really is no stopping Onuachu. Eight goals and three assists from seven starts are remarkable. The gangly forward got on the scoresheet to become the third highest goal scorer in the Danish League. The goals did seem to pass him by till the 87th minute when he scored Midtjylland’s last goal in the 4-2 drubbing of Horsens. Onuachu, a former Ebedei FC trainee, finished a fast attacking move, tapping in Alexandar Sorloth’s low centre. The striker missed a pass from deep just beyond the halfway line but fortunately, Sorloth latched unto it, hared along the left before he gave a low cross into the onrushing Onuachu’s path. Onuachu tapped it in score in his second consecutive game. Midtjylland remain at the top of the Danish Superliga with 28 points from their 13 games.