Sports

Awoniyi continues impressive start in Belgium

 

After a below par season in the Netherlands last term, Liverpool loanee, Taiwo Awoniyi has rediscovered his scoring form at Belgium club, Mouscron as he netted again at the weekend.

Awoniyi is joined in the scoring act by Henry Onyekuru, William Troost-Ekong and Paul Onuachu.

The most surprising news however comes from South Africa where Super Eagles outcast, Victor Obinna Nsofor resurfaced after a hiatus.

In this report, ADEBAYO OLODAN takes extensive look at the performances of Nigerian footballers across Europe, Asia and the African continent.

ENGLAND

Iheanacho makes full Leicester debut

Despite making his full debut for Leicester at the weekend, Kelechi Iheanacho is still searching for his first goal for the club after firing blanks in their 1-1 draw with new boys, Huddersfield Town at The John Smith’s Stadium.

The Foxes No 8 was substituted in the 69th minute, his compatriot Wilfred Ndidi put in a full shift while Ahmed Musa was not listed in the 18-man squad.

Elsewhere, Former Flying Eagles invitee, Freddie Ladapo was not in Crystal Palace line-up in their 1-0 loss to Southampton, the Eagles became the first team to lose their opening five matches in the English top-flight without scoring.

It was a point apiece and a goal apiece for Liverpool and Burnley at Anfield. Whilst Ovie Ejaria didn’t make the Reds 18-man squad, Dominic Solanke came off the bench in the 78th minute.

The England U21 international hit the crossbar in the 86th minute after Salah was denied a penalty.

Ex-Golden Eaglets sensation Isaac Success was a non-playing substitute in Watford’s 6-0 loss to Manchester City at The Vic. Young defender, Tosin Adarabioyo was not included in  the Hornets and the Citizens match day squads.

Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham starts in attack for Swansea City against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in the late kickoff.

On Sunday, Arsenal played out a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge with Victor Moses looking lively and productive in the opening 30 minutes. The right wing-back was however guilty of making a defensive error in the 38th minute which Laurent Koscielny to strike the ball over the bar.

Moses’ Nigerian compatriot, Alex Iwobi also put in a good shift before being substituted by Arsene Wenger, midway through the second half.

Moses, Iwobi make list of top 10 most valuable Nigerian players

Victor Moses is currently the most valuable Nigerian player, according to German website transfermarkt.com.

The former Crystal Palace and Wigan Athletic man will fetch 18 million euros in transfer fees, and is more expensive than Leicester City striker, Ahmed Musa who is rated at €17 million.

Of the ten most expensive Nigerian players, the top five – Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi and Alex Iwobi – represent English clubs.

Odion Ighalo, John Obi Mikel and Brown Ideye were previously on the books of Watford, Chelsea and West Brom respectively, while Henry Onyekuru has been loaned out by Everton to Anderlecht for the whole of this season.

Eight of the top ten most valuable Nigerian footballers play in offensive positions for the Super Eagles, and no defender made the list.

The list

1) Victor Moses (Chelsea) – €18 million

2) Ahmed Musa (Leicester City) – €17 million

3) Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City) – €15 million

4) Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City) – €14 million

5)  Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) – €10 million

6) Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai ) – €7 million

7) Henry Onyekuru (Anderlecht ) – €7 million

8) Obi Mikel (Tianjin Teda) – €6 million

9) Brown Ideye (Tianjin Teda) – €5 million

10) Moses Simon (Gent) – €4.5 million

SPAIN

Arsenal target, Chukwueze completes Villarreal move

Former Flying Eagles player, Samuel Chukwueze has confirmed his move to Lal Liga side Villarreal.

The talented winger penned a five-year deal that will keep him at The Yellow Submarine until June 30, 2022 before the close of the summer transfer window.

Chukwueze had attracted interest from several big teams in Europe after helping Nigeria win the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Arsenal had been favourites to sign Chukwueze but the proposed move collapsed after the Gunners and Diamond Academy could not agree on the payment terms, with the Premier League club insisting that a huge percentage of the transfer fee will be paid in June 2017.

Arsenal would have paid Diamond Academy 2.5 million pounds for the services of Samuel Chukwueze, including performance-related add-ons.

The Gunners had agreed a £1.5 million transfer fee and the Nigerian club would have pocketed £500,000 when he breaks into the first team plus an extra £500,000 when he makes his first appearance for the Super Eagles.

The 18-year-old Chukwueze links up with Jack Ipalibo at Villarreal.

GERMANY

Leon Balogun had a bad day in office as his team, Mainz 05 suffered a 4-0 defeat at defending champions, Bayern Munich. Noah Bazee is still recovering from injury and missed Hannover’s 2-0 win over Hamburger SV at HDI-Arena. The Super Eagles target has no appearance to his name in the German top-flight this season.

ITALY

Joel Obi remains sidelined with injury as his team, Torino was held to a 2-2 draw by Sampdoria.

 PORTUGAL

Little-known Junior Ideme Pius was introduced in the 31st min as his club, Tondela suffered a 0-2 loss away at Sporting.

HOLLAND

Former Dream Team VI invitee, Fred Friday watched proceedings from the bench as AZ Alkmaar beat Sparta Rotterdam 2-0 at Sparta-Stadion Het Kasteel. Arsenal loanee, Kelechi Nwakali played the last 15 mins of VVV Venlo’s 1-1 draw at Vitesse while Tyronne Ebuehi played for 90mins as ADO Den Haag held Ajax to a 1-1 draw. In the same vein, Kingsley Ehizibue was on from start to finish as his team PEC Zwolle secured a narrow 2-1 win over Heracles.

BELGIUM

Awoniyi continues impressive start

Liverpool loanee, Taiwo Awoniyi continued his brilliant start to the season with a goal in Royal Excel Mouscron’s 2-1 loss to Zulte-Waregem in the Belgian First Division A, yesterday.

The lone goal of the first half was scored by the Nigeria U-23 international in the 16th minute, as he used his strength to evade a defender then made a run into the box and fired past goalkeeper Nicola Leali.

Aside last weekend’s clash versus Club Brugge, Awoniyi has either scored or contributed to a goal in all the games in which he has featured for Royal Excel Mouscron so far this season.

Former Nigeria U-23 invitee, Peter Olayinka, who has also caught the eye this term, put in a full shift for Zulte-Waregem. With the win, Zulte-Waregem are fourth with 13 points, same points as Mouscron, who have an inferior goal difference.

Ex-Nigeria schoolboy Dennis Bonaventure played the last 29 minutes of Club Brugge’s 2-0 win over Mechelen after recovering from a ligament injury. It was his first appearance in the Belgian First Division A since August 11.

Elsewhere, Henry Onyekuru rose from the substitutes’ bench in the 64th min and scored 12 mins later to earn Anderlecht a 2-2 draw at Kortrijk with former U-20 skipper Abduljeleel  Ajagun lasting for 84 mins on the opposing team.

 DENMARK

Super Eagles midfielder Izunna Uzochukwu was not considered for OB’s trip to Silkeborg due to the red card he was shown on match day eight. Without him, OB lost 1-0.

The duo of Rilwan Hassan and Paul Onuachu put in impressive displays as Midtjylland trounced Hobro 5-1 with Onuachu scoring a goal and Hassan contributing an assist.

Onuachu who came off the bench in the 64th min scored in the 88th min give Midtjylland a 4-1 lead while Hassan provided the assist for Alexander Soerloth’s goal on 61 min before he was substituted six minutes from regulation time. Elsewhere, Kim Ojo had a cameo appearance after coming off the bench in the 89th min of Lyngby’s 0-0 draw at Randers.

SWITZERLAND

MFM star joins Zurich

Mountain of Fire Ministries (MFM) striker, Stephen Odey has signed a four-year contract with Swiss club FC Zurich after passing a routine medical last week.

Odey who netted 18 goals for his club in the Nigeria Professional Football League this season, jetted out of the country last week and had his medical before completing his long-awaited transfer to Europe.

The 19-year-old, who has been capped by Nigeria at full international and ‘B’ levels, has interested clubs in Sweden, Norway and only recently underwent trials at Danish club FC Midtjylland, which ended in a fiasco.

His International Transfer Certificate (ITC) is now being awaited.

RUSSIA

Newcastle scouts keep tab on Samuel

Newcastle United scouts were on hand to watch CSKA Moscow star, Aaron Olanare Samuel impress against Benfica on Tuesday night in the UEFA Champions League, reports The Mag.

The Russian side pulled of a shock 2-1 victory over the Portuguese champions thanks to goals from former Vitinho and Timur Zhamaletdinov, but eyes from England were instead on Olanare during the upset.

The Nigerian was being watched by beady Newcastle eyes at the Stadium of Light, impressing for the 67 minutes he was on the field. Tottenham and Huddersfield are also thought to be keeping on eye on the 23-year-old.

Olanare only joined the Russian side back in January, signing from Chinese side Guangzhou R&F FC. He had previously spent the latter half of the 2015/16 season with CSKA on-loan, scoring 3 times in 10 appearances – form that earned him a permanent move to Moscow.

The 23-year-old has made 7 appearances for Nigeria, and scored 2 goals.

TURKEY

Troost-Ekong pleased to score 5th career goal

William Troost-Ekong was delighted to net his maiden goal in the colours of Bursaspor in their 4-2 road win over Yeni Malatyaspor on match day five in the Turkish Super Lig on Saturday.

The central defender, making his fifth straight start in the Turkish top-flight, blasted home a loose ball in the 12th minute to open the scoring for his team.

Writing on Twitter, the former Netherlands youth-teamer stated : ”All Glory to God! So happy my first goal for @BursasporSk”.

As a defender for club and country, Troost-Ekong’s main job description is to stop the opponents from scoring, but he has added goals to his games in recent seasons.

The 24-year-old has written his name on the score-sheet five times since he netted his first professional goal against Aalesunds FK on March 19, 2016.

Ekong and international teammate Mikel Agu went the distance against Yeni Malatyaspor.

Mba released by Turkish side

Turkish side Yeni Malatyaspor have parted ways with Nigerian attacker Sunday Mba, four matches in the 2017/18 season.

Mba joined the Ertugrul Saglam coached side in July 2015 where he made over 50 appearances in the Turkish league.

An “injury” at the start of the current season saw the player largely sidelined and was still in wait for his maiden appearance for the season.

The club has since announced of releasing of his compatriot Austin Amutu with Azubuike Okechukwu the only Nigeria to survive the purge.

Mba shot to stardom when he scored the winner in the AFCON 2013 final against Burkina Faso in Johannesburg, South Africa, but he soon fell into a transfer row with Enugu Rangers that appeared to have derailed his progress.

The attacking midfielder, who first had a transfer dispute with Warri Wolves, shocked most people when he eventually opted to join French lower league club, CA Bastia in 2014.

Bastia was relegated to the third division and this freed him to move to Malatyaspor in and featured in key matches for the Turkish club as they won promotion to the top flight last season.

NORWAY

Ifeanyi Matthew, Charles Ezeh, Marco Tagbajumi all started for Lillestrom while Moses Ebiye and Shaloze Udoji Chigozie were benched with their team playing a goalless draw at home to

Kristiansund BK as at the time of filing this report.

Chidiebere Nwakali (Sogndal) and Ibrahim Shuaibu (FK Haugesund) both made the starting line-up while Izuchukwu Anthony was benched for the latter as their teams were playing a goalless draw as at the time of this report.

SCOTLAND

Super Eagles outcast, Efe Ambrose was on for 90 mins as Hibernian drew 2-2 at home to Motherwell.

FINLAND

Nnaemeka Anyamele came on in the 66th min when his team, HIFK drew 1-1 with JJK just as Faith Friday Obilor lasted 90 mins and Vincent Onovo substituted in the 81st min when HJK secured a 4-1 away win at Ilves.

Super Eagles fringe player, Gbolahan Salami played the last 24 mins of KuPS 3-1 win at VPS.

GREECE

Former Eagles forward, Emmanuel Emenike was introduced in the 67th min of Olympiacos’ 1-1 draw at home to Asteras Tripolis even as Abiola Dauda was benched when AE Larissa and his team, Atromitos were tied at 0-0 with few minutes left to play.

AUSTRIA

Sturm Graz’s Emeka Eze was benched all through the 1-2 loss at Admira Moedling.

 CHINA

Ighalo on song as Mikel, new boss suffer defeat

John Mikel Obi was in action as Tianjin Teda were thrashed 5-1 by Changchun Yatai in Chinese Super League on Friday at Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium.

Tianji Teda Suffered 5-1 home defeat to a side that sit 10th in table and it is first game of Uli Stielike as Tianjin Teda manager.

Uli Stielike was confirmed as Tianjin Teda new manager on 9 September 2017.

Tianjin Teda are going through a tough time as they are battling relegation. They sit 15th in the table.

Stielike suffered defeat to Changchun Yatai in first game in charge.

Jude Odion Ighalo scored Changchun Yatai fifth goal in the 69th minute.

SOUTH AFRICA

Cape Town City coach, McCarthy explains Nsofor’s signing

Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy has explained his role in the signing of forward, Victor Obinna Nsofor.

City last Tuesday announced the signing of the experienced former Inter Milan and West Ham striker as a free agent after he left German outfit Darmstadt 98 last season.

McCarthy says he forged a friendship with the 30-year-old during his playing days with the Hammers in England.

“Obinna, he’s a great friend of mine,” McCarthy revealed.

“I’ve known Victor from his days in the Nigerian national team, when he used to be a strike partner for Obafemi Martins. Back then, obviously when he signed with Inter as an African player everyone knows about it. It was round about that time I was in England, Spain, Portugal. It is big news for African players when they get such an opportunity.

“I came across him at West Ham where we played together. He was a bit youngish, I took him under my wing as I was on the way out. We became friends and always just kept in touch all these years.

“I learnt he was free and doesn’t have a club, of course when you are in Europe why would you come to South Africa? So I had to persuade him a little bit to get back into football and that he can always go back to Europe. And to my shock and surprise he said, ‘yeah, why not?’ What has he got to lose? So he came down and that’s it, because we were teammates at West Ham and with what he’s seen and read that the team play nice football.

“He’s a very humble guy and hopefully he can teach the guys some stuff or learn from them as he’s been out of African football for many years. This is his way to get back into topflight football, and why not with Cape Town City?”

Obinna will bolster McCarthy’s attacking options, which include ex-Orlando Pirates marksman Lehlohonolo Majoro and fit-again winger Judas Moseamedi.

Fit-again Akpeyi keeps 16th clean sheet

Daniel Akpeyi kept a clean sheet as Chippa United were held to a goalless draw by Platinum Stars at Royal Bafokeng Stadium (Phokeng, NW), Saturday evening.

The goalkeeper was due to start on Tuesday against Baroka but there was a last minute change to the line-up and he eventually ended up on the bench.

A day after Chippa United’s 3-1 loss to Baroka, manager Dan Malesela was relieved of his responsibilities and Teboho Moloi was appointed as caretaker coach.

Akpeyi’s clean sheet today brought his total to 16 in the PSL since his move to the Chilli Boys in the summer of 2015 from Warri Wolves.

If he keeps more than eight clean sheets this season, he will break his personal record set in the 2016-2017 campaign.

The 31-year-old failed a fitness test before Nigeria’s double-header against Cameroon earlier this month and had to withdraw from the squad.

 

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