It was another weekend of goals galore across Europe for players with Nigerian routes as no fewer than seven of them registered their names on the score sheet in pre-season matches.
Among those on target was Peter Utaka who rescued the point for FC Tokyo in the Japanese League and Alexander Iwobi in Arsenal 5-2 bashing of Benfica. Also on song are; Torino midfielder, Joel Obi and Tammy Abraham among others.
For want-away Kelechi Iheanacho, he may continue his cameo role at Manchester City this season should a move to Leicester City fail to materialize, according to his manager, Pep Guardiola.
In this report, ADEBAYO OLODAN takes you through speculations on Super Eagles players plus exploits of Nigerian players in the Belgian League that kicked off last weekend.
Ugbo ghosts past compatriots to win penalty
Chelsea loanee, Ike Ugbo continued to dazzle for Barnsley in pre-season, despite the Reds losing 4-0 to Rotherham Utd at the AESSEAL New York Stadium on Saturday.
Four players of Nigerian descent in the shape of Ike Ugbo (Barnsley) and defenders Semi Ajayi, Michael Ihiekwe and Joshua Oluwadurotimi (Rotherham Utd) started for their respective teams.
Ugbo went on a superb run into the penalty area, ghosted past Ajayi, Josh and Ihiekwe with ease, before he was hacked down by the Ipswich Town loanee.
The 18-year-old is in line to make his competitive debut for Barnsley in their Championship opener against Bristol City on August 5.
Adarabioyo stars as City outclass Tottenham
England-born Nigerian defender, Oluwatosin Adarabioyo bagged a second half appearance as his Manchester City side ended their pre-season tour of the USA in style after outclassing Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 in an International Champions Cup game staged at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday.
Adarabioyo came on as a second half substitute to replace former Everton defender John Stones in the final 16 minutes of the encounter.
A 10 minute opener by John Stones and two second half efforts by Raheem Sterling and Brahim Diaz secured the Cityzens their second straight win in three games at the just concluded ICC tournament won by last term’s La Liga runners-up Barcelona who overcame Real Madrid 3-2 to clinch the title.
Guardiola’s men suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of city rivals Manchester United in their opening fixture of the USA tourney.
Ndukwu agrees new Leicester deal
England youth international of Nigerian descent, Layton Ndukwu has presumably agreed a new deal with former Premier League champions, Leicester City.
At the end of the 2016-17 campaign, the Foxes announced that the winger cum striker has been offered a new contract when their retained list was published.
Ndukwu ended speculation about his future after resuming pre-season with Leicester and was in action for their U-23 squad in their 3-3 draw with Nuneaton Town on July 22.
At the weekend, the 18-year-old was named on the bench for Leicester City’s first-team first domestic fixture in pre-season against Luton Town.
Ndukwu was wearing the number 37 jersey in the game against the Hatters.
Nwakali extends Man City deal
Chidiebere Nwakali has signed an extension to his contract with Manchester City even though he is expected to go out on loan again.
Nigerian midfielder Chidiebere Nwakali has extended his Manchester City contract by a year and he will not be returning to Norwegian club Sogndal on loan.
“Chidiebere (Nwakali) has extended his stay with Manchester City by one year. This is in keeping with the law or rules in England”, Emeka Amajiriaku, Chief Executive Officer of ASJ, the academy from where Chidiebere made his breakthrough disclosed.
He also revealed that the 20-year-old midfielder will no longer return to Sogndal on loan.
“His loan deal at Sogndal of Norway has ended and he will no longer be going there again or any team in Norway,” Amajiriaku.
“We are looking at a much stronger league which will help his development.
“Having helped Sogndal during his loan spell there, it is only normal he moves on to bigger things.”
He did not disclose Nwakali’s next career destination but insisted a few options are now being explored.
“We’re working on something. I mean his agent and Manchester City. When things are properly sorted, surely, I’ll get back to you”, he promised.
Chidiebere, he further disclosed, delivered 12 pairs of football boots to the academy last Tuesday.
“It was a pleasant surprise. Chidiebere came to our training ground, donated 12 pairs of match boots, two sets of jerseys and 22 pairs of track suits to the academy,” he disclosed.
“He said it was his own little way of appreciating the academy from where he made his career break through and everyone, the players and officials were very happy with him.”
How Solanke reacted after scoring on first Liverpool start
England U-20 international of Nigerian descent, Dominic Solanke was delighted to register his name on the score-sheet in Liverpool’s 3-0 rout of Hertha BSC at the Olympiastadion, Saturday evening.
The Golden Ball winner at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup rose and powered his header into the back of the net to give The Reds the lead after fifteen minutes.
The 19-year-old Solanke has scored two goals in his last three matches for Liverpool in pre-season, having opened his account versus Crystal Palace in the Premier League Asia Trophy on July 19.
Solanke posted on Instagram: ”Good win today in Berlin. Happy to get another goal in red.”
Dominic Solanke was substituted at half time while former Golden Eaglets trainee, Ovie Ejaria played the last 32 minutes of the match.
Iheanacho may stay at Man City if Leicester move fails – Guardiola
Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola has left the door open in his team for Kelechi Iheanacho should the much-reported transfer to Leicester City not go through.
Iheanacho was to have had a medical at Leicester City on Friday, but that did not happen as it appears several grey areas have yet to be sorted out as regards the transfer that would make the striker Nigeria’s most expensive player.
Guardiola has further cast doubts about the transfer on his return from his team’s training tour of the United States of America.
He said: “I think Kelechi is going to leave, for Leicester. I think so, but I don’t want to say something wrong. If it doesn’t happen, he will be part of the group.”
Last season, Iheanacho, 20, struggled for playing time with the arrival of Guardiola and subsequent arrival of Brazil star Gabriel Jesus.
Chelsea monitors trio in Youths Super Cup
Chelsea is interested in the meeting between two of England’s most successful academy sides Manchester Utd and Southampton at the Super Cup.
Scouts in attendance have confirmed that a representative of the Blues was at Showgrounds, Coleraine last week.
Three players of Nigerian descent were on parade, Ademipo Odubeko and Shola Shoretire for Man Utd and Roland Idowu started for Southampton.
Shoretire stood out a mile during the match with some dazzling displays, while Odubeko finished as his team’s top scorer with three goals.
Odubeko and Idowu played for Republic of Ireland U-15 team last season.
Iwobi on song as Gunners hits Benfica for 5
Arsenal defeated Portuguese champions Benfica 5-2, Saturday evening, with Alex Iwobi scoring the fifth goal for his team at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners were leading 4-2 when in the 70th minute, Iwobi scored the goal of the game with an accurate and powerful right-footed shot that beat Júlio César, before making way for Ozil four minutes later.
Abraham on target in Swansea City’s win
Tammy Abraham was on target for Swansea City as they recorded a 2-0 victory over Birmingham City at St Andrew’s in a club friendly game on Saturday.
The British-Nigerian Striker joined the Liberty Stadium outfit on loan from Chelsea and has been showcasing his talents on the pitch during the club’s pre-season tour.
Abraham broke the deadlock with 56 minutes played. After a magnificent turn by Leroy Fer to shake Craig Gardner, he found the youngster with a weighted cross at the back post and the Blues loanee volleyed home from close range.
The English top flight team doubled their lead after Wayne Routledge teed up Fer whose’s shot took a wicked deflection that sent the goalkeeper the wrong way after 76 minutes.
Joel Obi scores again for Torino
Joel Obi scored a goal in Torino’s 2-0 win over French club Guingamp in a pre-season friendly to continue his impressive run ahead of the new Serie A season.
Obi, who scored the opening goal of the game in the 32nd minute, has now scored two goals in pre-season games for the Serie A side.
The former Inter Milan and Parma midfielder will be looking forward to a great and injury free season after his career has been held up by injuries.
The 26-year-old Joel Obi made 20 appearances mostly as a substitute last season.
The new Serie A season begins on August 19 and the following day Torino open their campaign at Bologna.
Why Osimhen was dropped by Wolfsburg coach
Wolfsburg forward, Victor Osimhen was missing when the German side defeated English Championship outfit Fulham 3- 0 in a pre season friendly played at Craven Cottage.
Osimhen’s absence was not explained by the club, but Owngoalnigeria.com impeccable sources can now authoritatively reveal the reason why he didn’t make the travelling party to England for the friendly game.
The 18-year-old didn’t have an entry visa into England, where the game was played as the club failed to apply for a visa for him since the resumption of pre-season training last month ago.
We gathered the club didn’t apply for a UK entry visa for the enterprising forward because they were not sure of the exact date the game will be played until few days ago.
Without Osimhen Wolfsburg still went ahead to beat Fulham who had out of favour Super Eagles forward Sone Aluko on for the game 3-0, with star striker Mario Gomez scoring a brace.
Oliseh targets unnamed Nigerian striker
Fortuna Sittard’s manager, Sunday Oliseh, is seeking to add an unnamed Nigerian striker to his squad.
“They are gradually getting into shape for the new season, but we need to be fully prepared in terms of personnel as well.
“We are in talks with a Nigerian forward as we speak and we hope to get his response before the end of this week.”
Fortuna Sittard finished 17th in the Dutch second division log last season.
Bursaspor closes in on Olarenwaju
Turkish side Bursaspor is closing in on a deal to sign the Nigeria international Olarenwaju Kayode from Austrian club FK Austria Wien, according to reports.
Bursaspor has been in talks with FK Austria Wien for the striker who was inform last season and there have been a large deal of negotiations on monetary issues as the with Austria Wien as the Super Eagles star is still under contract with the club till 2019.
The 24-year-old joined FK Austria Wien on July 2015 on a four-year deal.
Olayinka provides 3 assists in big away win
Peter Olayinka may not have scored on his league debut for Belgian cup holders Zulte-Waregem but he provided three assists for them to win 5-0 at KAS Eupen on the opening day of the season.
Olayinka, who is on a season-long loan from another Belgian club KAA Gent, gave the assists in the 59th, 65th and 88th minutes as Zulte-Waregem got off to a winning start in fine style. He was in action for the entire duration.
The tall striker from 36 Lion of Lagos has been in super form in pre-season and he played the entire Belgian Super Cup final against Anderlecht, which his team lost narrowly after taking the lead.
Agbo makes debut for Liege
Uche Agbo made his competitive debut for Standard Liege, lasting the distance in their 1-1 draw with Mechelen, Sunday afternoon.
As previously reported, Premier League club Arsenal plus Ajax Amsterdam, PSV and AC Milan sent their trusted scouts to observe the game at the AFAS-stadion Achter de Kazerne (Mechelen).
Uche, 21, started the game in his preferred position, which is defensive midfield, and was not at fault for the goal scored by Mechelen’s number 99.
His representatives have close links with Premier League clubs, including Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, and a return to England in future can’t be ruled out if he continues developing.
Bonaventure rated top new signing in Belgium
Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis has been named in a special team of top new signings to watch in the new season in Belgium, which kicked off this past weekend.
Dennis was named in a starting XI of new signings to watch in Belgium by the newspaper Hetnieuwsblad.
The 19-year-old forward was snapped up by Club Brugge from FC Zorya of Ukraine for a bargain 1.2 million Euros and already he has begun to repay the investment after his brace last night against hosts Lokeren.
He also scored in his club’s UEFA Champions League qualifier earlier last week.
There was special mention for fellow Nigeria stars Henry Onyekuru and Uche Agbo to also shine at their new clubs.
Onyekuru is on loan to champions Anderlecht from Premier League side Everton, while Uche Agbo has signed a three-year permanent transfer with Standard Liege from Premier League side Watford.
Alimi, Pyagbara try out with Viking
The duo of Sunshine Stars striker, Sikiru Alimi and Akwa United ex-Nigeria youth international, Christian Pyagbara are undergoing trials with Norwegian side Viking.
Pyagbara is the most illustrious of the duo with one senior national team cap to his name after his sterling exploit for the Nigeria U20 in 2013. This season he has found the back of the net 5 times for title chasers Akwa United.
Known for his pace, power, tricks and dribbling abilities he played for defunct Sharks of Port Hacourt and Enyimba FC of Aba before moving to Akwa United, where he has recaptured the form that made him a hit earlier on in his career.
Alimi also played for the U-20, but he is best remembered for his exploits with Warri Wolves when he scored 11 goals during his stint with the team in 2015. Presently he has five goals for Sunshine Stars.
Latifu makes debut in 4-goal thriller
Akeem Latifu has described his move to Hungary as a new challenge after he debuted for new club, Budapest Honved in a 2-2 home draw with Balmajusvaros Sport.
“I am happy to debut for my new club, it’s a new challenge for me.
“But I am not happy with got just a point, all three points was my target.
“We will do better next game,” he said.
Latifu, who spotted jersey number 22, was a delight to watch in the game as his crosses troubled the opposing defence.
His Nigerian compatriot, Eke Uzoma, was in action for Balmajusvaros Sport.
Utaka rescues FC Tokyo
Peter Utaka was the hero of his Japanese J-League team FC Tokyo yesterday after scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at home with Albirex.
The 33-year-old front man fired home in the 66th minute to prevent the hosts from losing the game.
Utaka, who is on loan from another J-League club, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, has now scored four goals in 13 league games.
He has played for Beijing Guoan (China), Shimzu S-Pulse(Japan), OB Odense (Denmark) and Dalian Yifang (China).
Paykan signs Ngwoke
Iranian club Paykan FC have signed Nigerian striker Kenneth Ngwoke on a year’s deal from Egyptian club El Sharkia.
He has already been presented by the club.
Ngwoke, a big, strong target man, has previously featured for Ismaily, also of Egypt.
Paykan are the same Iranian club Enugu Rangers winger Daniel Etor is in talks with.
Etor has since arrived Tehran and will be there for most of this new week.
Orkuma signs 4-yr deal with ENPPI
Former Flying Eagles defensive midfielder, Moses Terese Orkuma yesterday penned a four year deal with Egyptian Premier League side, ENNPI.
The former Lobi Stars player joined the Egyptian club from Tunisian giants, Etoile du Sahel following the expiration of his contract.
ENPPI was first promoted to the Premier League at the end of the 2002-2003 season.
Orkuma who did not disclose the details of the contract told newsmen it was good enough to make him sign for the ambitious club.
He said having spent some years in North Africa, he is wise enough to know when and where to sign.
The hard tackling midfielder therefore said he cannot wait for the season to start for him to repay the club for the confidence they have shown in him.
Agiptor joins Ahli
Libyan side Ahli Tripoli has managed to capture the signing of ENPPI midfielder, Emmanuel Agiptor, it was announced on Friday.
Agiptor has been a player for ENPPI since June 2016, when he completed the switch from Dakhleya to the Petroleum club on a free transfer.
The midfielder featured in 23 games for ENPPI last season in the Egyptian Premier League and getting his name on the score sheet once.
The 26-year-old will be eligible for participation in the CAF Champions League quarterfinal against Tunisia’s Étoile Sportive du Sahel.
Recall that Ahli Tripoli succeeded in advancing to the African championship’s after coming second behind USM Alger, in the group which included Egypt giants Zamalek.
DID YOU KNOW?
1. Jermain Defoe has scored 14 Premier League goals in the 90th minute of games, more than any other player.
2. Philippe Coutinho has scored more goals (34) than any other Brazilian player in Premier League history.
3. Man Utd has finished second in the English top- flight more often than any other side (15).
4. Raheem Sterling was the only Man City player to hit double figures for both goals (10) and assists (15) in 2016-17 (all comps).
5. Watford’s Hurelho Gomes is one of two players who’ve not missed a Premier League game across the last two seasons (along with D. Fletcher).
6. Ross Barkley provided more assists (8)than any other English player in the 2016-17 Premier League campaign.
7. The highest number of away wins in an English top-flight season is 16, by Tottenham in 1960-61.
8. Kevin De Bruyne has the best minutes per assist rate (179) in Premier League history (min. 20 assists).
9. Only four Serie A teams have changed their manager from last season: the lowest number since 2008/09.
10. Last season, Kyllian Mbappe had the highest shot conversion rate (37’1%, 26 goals) for a French team in all competitions (10 goals min).
11. The fewest goals conceded by a side that failed to win the English top-flight title is 17, by Arsenal in 1998-99.
12. Salomon Kalou has scored the highest number of goalsequally spread between home and away in PL history (18 home, 18 away).