…World Cup defender, Idowu, clubless
After the premature exit of the Super Eagles at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, some Nigerian players are already shaping up for the 2018/19 football season in Europe while others have continued to put in decent shift in some less fancied leagues across the globe.
One of the players to have shone brightly for his club is Atletico Madrid flop, Samson Olaleye who scored four goals in a famous win for his Vietnamese club at the weekend.
Elsewhere, Paul Onuachu, Adebayo Azeez, James Alabi and Uche Ikpeazu, all scored for their Danish and lower league English clubs in pre-season friendly matches.
However, one player who may not be celebrating at the moment is Super Eagles left-back, Bryan Idowu who has been left without a club after his Russian team, Amkar Perm went bankrupt lately. Idowu may however search long for suitors following his below average performance for the national team at the World Cup.
In this report, the News Editor, ADEBAYO OLODAN writes on the exploits of Nigerian players abroad plus transfer speculations surrounding those players.
Pre-Season: Onuachu, Ikpeazu, Azeez, Alabi on target
At the Sportpark vv Dirkshorn, Danish club, FC Midtjylland and AZ Alkmaar played out a 1-1 draw.
Wolves striker, Paul Onuachu drew his team level in the 64th minute with a superb strike after Alkmaar had nudged in front through Idrissi.
Elsewhere, Cambridge United made light work of non-league side, St Neots 7-1 in their first get-together game at the Premier Plus Stadium, with David Amoo and Adebayo Azeez linking well throughout the encounter.
Azeez scored in the 62nd minute off a dinked cross from Amoo following a quick counter attack to make the score line 4-1.
In yet another demolition job which saw National League side, Leyton Orient trounced Harlow Town 7-0 in Essex, striker, James Alabi was on target for the O’s.
The 23-year old who was introduced at the end of the first period powered home from close range after teammate Widdowson’s excellent run and cross to make it 4-0 in the 75th minute.
Scottish Premiership side Heart of Midlothian F.C won their second pre-season game on the bounce, beating Dumbarton 2-0 thanks to a brace from former Nigeria U23 invitee Uche Ikpeazu.
The former Reading youth-teamer opened the scoring from the spot in the 13th minute and notched his second of the game on 86 minutes.
Everton rejects £12m Lookman bid
Everton has rejected a bid worth around £12m from RB Leipzig for Ademola Lookman.
The Germans want to keep Lookman after his successful loan spell in the Bundesliga during the second half of last season.
And they have made their first move to make his move permanent but seen their opening offer knocked back by Everton.
Leipzig is now weighing up an improved bid knowing Lookman is keen to make the move.
He held talks with Everton chiefs last week over his future and they are reluctant to let him go.
But the exciting 20-year old forward is ready to move on and make a fresh start after struggling for regular football during his time at Everton.
He joined for £10m from Charlton in January 2017 and scored on a dream debut against Manchester City.
But he made just 15 Premier League appearances – only four starts – over the next year before moving to Germany.
Burnley signs Chima on 2-year deal
Burnley has beaten three English clubs to the signing of young centre-back, Udoka Chima on a two-year deal.
The 18-year-old defender who joins from a grassroots club in London is among the 11 teenagers recruited to join the Claret youth team for the upcoming season.
Burnley confirmed on their official website after signing the youngster ahead of several clubs, including Coventry City, Norwich City and Luton Town.
Three players of Nigerian descent Richard Taylor, Tunde Bayode and Ali Koiki will play for Burnley’s youth teams this season.
Ola Aina proud of brother’s new Chelsea deal
Super Eagles full-back, Ola Aina was immensely delighted at his sibling penning a new contract with Premier League side Chelsea ahead of the forthcoming season.
The Blues have confirmed on their official website that Jordan Aina was among the 14 new scholars that arrived at the Chelsea Academy last week to begin preparations for the new campaign.
Described as a committed defender on the field, Jordan Aina has been with Chelsea since the U-8 age group and has always played in a defensive role throughout his schoolboy years.
Jordan has penned a two-year scholarship deal with the London team five years after Ola Aina started his full-time education at Cobham.
”Somebody come and look at this!! My twin just signed his scholar @chelseafc super proud of him. He puts in the work thank you God @jordanaina4,” Ola Aina said on Instagram.
Ola Aina and another defender Fikayo Tomori as well as Tammy Abraham have all reported for pre-season training at Chelsea.
Adebayo loaned to Swindon Town
Fulham striker, Elijah Adebayo is unlikely to make his Premier League debut in the 2018-19 campaign after joining League Two side, Swindon Town.
Swindon Town reported on their official website that Adebayo has joined the club on a season-long loan, subject to FA and EFL approval.
The 20-year-old has been on the books of Fulham since joining at U-9 level, rising through the ranks before making his debut for the Cottagers U23 squad.
Commenting on the deal, Adebayo said: ”I love goals. Goals, goals, goals is what I want to achieve and I want to score as many as possible.
“That is my one and only aim. The team comes first but I want to provide goals and assists – goals win games and goals get you promotions and titles.
“That is what I’m striving for.”
Born in London, Adebayo previously had three loan experiences at Cheltenham Town, Slough Town and Bognor Regis.
Famewo pens new Luton deal, loaned to Grimsby
Through their official website, EFL League Two club Grimsby Town has announced the signing of promising central defender, Akin Famewo on a season-long loan from Luton Town.
The highly-rated 19-year-old stopper penned a one-year contract extension tying him to Luton Town until the end of the 2019-2020 season before heading off to Grimsby Town.
The London-born Famewo has 14 games under his belt for Luton Town’s first team since making his first team debut against Newport County in August 2016.
The left-footed center back joined The Hatters at U11 level and penned his first professional contract with the newly promoted League One club in July 2016.
Grimsby Town has hinted that Akin Famewo will be in attendance when they face Cleethorpes Town in their opening pre-season game on Saturday, July 7.
Chima Okorie, Iffy Onuora, Diallang Jaiyesimi and James Alabi have represented Grimsby Town’s first team in the past.
Yeovil announces Sowunmi’s contract extension
Yeovil Town has announced that Omar Sowunmi, 22 has committed his future to the club after signing a fresh two-year contract. The 6ft 6in tall play is versatile as he could play as a defender and striker.
Agu rules out loan switch, wants Porto stay
Mikel Ndubuisi Agu, has resolved to stay and fight for his spot at Portuguese giants, FC Porto in the new season.
The combative player, who has played away on loan in the last three seasons, insists that he wants to stay with his parent club and seize the opportunity when presented with one.
“I don’t want to go on loan again. I’m staying at Porto and, so far, I’ve resumed for pre-season and everything is going on fine. I will work very hard and take my chance when I get it,” Agu told newsmen.
Agu had previously played at Belgium’s Club Brugge, where he won the league title. He also had a stint at Rashidi Yekini’s former club, Vitoria Setubal, whom he helped to the semi-finals of the Taca da Liga before spending last season with Turkish Super Lig side Bursaspor where he played alongside Super Eagles teammates William Troost-Ekong and Shehu Abdullahi.
The 25-year old is confident of his ability to fit in with the current Portuguese champions.
He said: “I know I can make the grades and play with the team. I’ve been here before and I’ve also been training with the team since we resumed for pre-season, so I have an idea of what I need to do. If I continue to work as hard as I’m doing and I stay injury-free, I’m sure I have the quality to play here.”
World Cup defender, Idowu, clubless
Former Amkar Perm left-back, Bryan Idowu will now need to shop for a new club after playing for Nigeria at the World Cup in Russia.
His Russian club, Amkar Perm was declared bankrupt and as such they have released all their players including Idowu.
The St Petersburg-born Idowu played all three-group games for the Eagles at Russia 2018.
Unconfirmed reports suggested coach Gernot Rohr’s insistence on the defender may not be unconnected with a desperate attempt to get him a new club.
The 26-year-old Idowu had a contract with Amkar Perm till the summer of 2020.
He has previously featured at another Russian club Dynamo Saint Petersburg on loan from Amkar Perm.
Sadiq’s deal ‘almost done,’ says Gerrard
Rangers Manager, Steven Gerrard has hinted that his team is nearing a deal for former U-23 forward, Sadiq Umar.
Umar, 22, scored twice in six Serie A appearances for Roma during the 2015-16 season but has spent time out on loan with Bologna, Torino and NAC Breda over the last couple of years.
Last term, the striker netted five times in 12 league matches for Breda, and Gerrard confirmed last month that he was interested in bringing the Nigeria Under-23 international to Scotland.
The former Liverpool captain has insisted that Umar remains a Roma player, but has said to “watch this space” regarding a potential deal.
The player was excluded from the list of players that will resume for pre-season duties at the Italian side today in Trigoria, as the loan move to Rangers draws close.
Teenage sensation, Gong joins Vitesse
Hilary Gong’s transfer to Vitesse Arnhem is now in the bag, with the Dutch Eredivisie side announcing his signing on Thursday following a successful medical.
Vitesse saw off competition from teams in Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and France before securing the services of one of the most promising Nigerian teenagers.
Gong penned a four-year deal which will keep him at Vitesse until the end of the 2021-2022 season.
Commenting on his transfer, Gong told Vitesse’s official website: ”The story of Vitesse really appealed to me. They have often looked at me and knew exactly where my qualities lie.
”The Eredivisie is known as a competition in which young players get plenty of opportunities. I hope to adapt quickly to the new environment and then show the true Hilary Gong.”
Vitesse will face Wolfsberger AC, Shakhtar Donetsk, Arsenal Tula and Lokomotiv Moscow in preseason games before their first competitive game of the season, a Europa League qualifier on July 26.
Omo begins training with Levadiakos
Nigerian midfielder, Suleiman Omo has started training with his new team, APO Levadiakos.
On Friday, Omo was among the players that participated in training exercises in the gym and was put through his paces by manager Apostolos Mantzios in the afternoon.
Suleiman has spent the last thirteen years of his career with Greek clubs after previous spells with Montenegrin and Macedonian clubs.
This past week, Levadiakos announced the acquisition of the 32-year-old on undisclosed terms.
The experienced central midfielder counts Egaleo, Ilisiakos, Panionios, Tyrnavos, Ermionida, Kerkyra, Acharnaikos and Lamia among the clubs in Greece he previously represented.
The 1.85m tall Omo is a naturalised Greek citizen.
Ekpai promises more goals for Viktoria Plzen
Ubong Ekpai has revealed he has settled in quickly at new Czech club Viktoria Plzen and now hopes to score more goals when the new season gets underway.
A goal on his return from injury in pre-season would no doubt have helped his confidence and the former Akwa United star disclosed that he is looking to surpass the number of goals he scored last season.
He said, “I feel great to be in among the goals already despite only just returning from surgery and I hope to keep scoring especially when they start to matter.”
He added: “I do not think about the number of goals I am going to score this season because it would just put unnecessary pressure on me, which is not good.
“But I want to assure Viktoria Plzen fans that I will always give 101% and work towards improving my goals’ tally from last season.”
The former Zlin top goal scorer went on to express his excitement about playing in the UEFA Champions League, adding that all the players are looking to put in their best to ensure that the team make it to the group stage of the competition.
Ekpai signed a 3-year contract with the Czech club which will see him play Champions League next season.
Henty pens 2-yr Osijek deal
Ezekiel Henty has joined Croatian top division club, Osijek on a two-year deal from Hungary’s Videoton FC.
Henty who was handed No.45 jersey at the club expressed his delight joining his tenth career club in Europe.
The 25-year-old striker who was born in Lagos played for the youth team of Milan, Spezia and Perugia. He also featured for Gorica, Olimpija Ljubljana, Lokomotiv Moscow, Baniyas and Videoton.
Atletico Madrid flop, Olaleye, hits 4 past Chi Minh
Former Atletico Madrid striker, Samson Kayode Olaleye scored four goals as his Vietnamese club,
Ha Noi TT defeated Ho Chi Ming City Police 6-3, yesterday.
The leggy forward who has been playing in the less fancied league for about a decade.
Waited till the second half to turn on the screw as he scored in the 69 th, 71st, 82nd and 85th minute of the match.
The Nigerian who gained Vietnamese citizenship in 2013 scored the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th goals. A fortnight ago, Olaleye scored twice as Ha Noi defeated SHB Da Nang 5-2 in the Vietnam League. Olaleye secured a move to Atletico Madrid in 2011 but was loaned to Portuguese club, SC Braga where he never played a match before making a swift return to Vietnam.
Michael Olaha (Song Lam Nghe): The unknown Nigerian scored the third goal in the 47th min of his team’s 3-2 win at Nam Dinh.
Marvin Ogunjimi (Thanh Hoa): The former Belgium-based forward was a second half substitute when his team secured a 1-0 away win at Sai Gon.
Moses Ogbu (Sirius): He was substituted in the 67th min of his team’s 0-4 capitulation at home to Malmoe FF.
Chima Akas (Kalmar FF): The former Enyimba left-back lasted the duration of his club’s 3-1 win at IFK Gothenburg.
Ex-Flying Eagles star, Ohawuchi joins Ajman
Saudi Arabian club, Al Qadisiyah has officially announced that they have loaned out former Flying Eagles forward, Stanley Ohawuchi to United Arab Emirates team, Ajman Club.
The 28-year-old will spend the whole of the 2018-2019 campaign at the Arabian Gulf League side.
Ohawuchi joined Al Qadisiyah last summer and was involved in 25 games in all competitions, scoring four goals and providing three assists.
He began his career in Europe with Atlético Baleares in Spain before switching to Maltese club Sliema Wanderers in 2012.
Ohawuchi later had successful stints at Egyptian clubs Wadi Degla and Zamalek for three years, winning the best foreign player award in the Egyptian Premier League for 2015.
Ohawuchi, who represented Nigeria at the 2009 U-20 World Cup in Egypt, previously had spells with Heartland and Bayelsa United in the domestic league.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Jordan Henderson has not ended on the losing side in any of his last 30 England matches (W23 D7), the longest unbeaten run of any England player in history.
- England defender, Harry Maguire has won more aerial duels (33) than any other defender at the 2018 World Cup.
- Croatia is just the second side to progress on a penalty shootout in consecutive knockout games in a World Cup tournament after Argentina in 1990 (v Yugoslavia and Italy).
- Eden Hazard completed all 10 of his dribbles in the quarterfinal match against Brazil – the most dribbles attempted by a player with a 100% success rate in a World Cup match since 1966.
- At 22yrs and 87days, Dele Alli is the second youngest player to score a World Cup goal for England, behind only Michael Owen (18y 190d v Romania in 1998).
- England has progressed into the semi-finals of the World Cup for only the third time, having also done so in 1966 and 1990.
- Brazil has now been eliminated by a European nation in each of the last four editions of the World Cup (France 2006, Netherlands 2010, Germany 2014 and Belgium 2018).
- Eight of England’s 10 goals at the 2018 World Cup have been scored via set pieces (80%).
- Andrej Kramaric is the seventh different player to score for Croatia at the 2018 World Cup; only Belgium (9) have had more different goal scorers (excluding own goals) in this year’s competition.
- Mexico goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa has made 25 saves at the 2018 World Cup; eight more than any other goalkeeper in the tournament.
- Brazil forward, Neymar attempted the most shots (23) and shots on target (12), as well as creating the most goal scoring chances for his teammates (16) and suffering the most fouls (23) at the 2018 World Cup.
- Denis Cheryshev has scored four goals at the 2018 World Cup – only Oleg Salenko (6 in 1994) has netted more in a single edition of the tournament for Russia (including USSR).
- Colombia’s Yerry Mina’s header in the Round of 16 match against England was the 99th goal scored in the 90th minute in World Cup history.