ANALYSIS: Who will replace Odion Ighalo as Super Eagles’ Rashidi Yekini?

ANALYSIS: Who will replace Odion Ighalo as Super Eagles’ Rashidi Yekini?
August 10
09:53 2019

You must have remembered legendary Rashidi Yekini after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) — thanks to one man, Odion Ighalo.

Odion drew the curtain on his international career at the end of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after emerging top scorer — equalling Yekini’s record of a five-goal AFCON golden boot.

Luckily for the Super Eagles there is plenty of younger talent currently coming through, under the age of 23, who we believe will take the nation by storm in the next few years if they continue their development.

TheCable takes a look at the next generation of Super Eagles strikers who will look to replace Odion Ighalo in the Nigeria national team over the coming years

Here are some of them:

David Okereke – Club Brugge

Blessed with terrific pace and agility Okereke was ranked among the top talents in Italian football after showing quality Spezia first team last season. After netting 10 goals in the 2018/19 campaign a move to Club Brugge followed. He has started well with three goals in two games.

Junior Chukwuibe Adamu – Liefering

Eligible to play for Austria and Nigeria, Adamu was sent on to Liefering by Red Bull Salzburg before the 2019/20 season started. Three goals in two games for Liefering has keep tongues wagging. If he can continue his development and learning, then the 18-year-old is more than capable of becoming one of the most deadly strikers in Europe.

Taiwo Awoniyi – Liverpool

Taiwo Awoniyi is a strong striker, with good ball control and a deadly right foot.

The forward has endured a frustrating spell since making the move in August 2015, with work permit issues resulting in the 21-year-old’s career on Merseyside stalling, being loaned out to four different clubs during that period as a result.

Awoniyi has been sent out to Royal Excel Mouscron, FSV Frankfurt, NEC and Gent since making the switch to ​the Reds.

The youngster’s struggles to obtain a work permit come as a result of the difficulties non-EU players face, with footballing hopefuls first needing to demonstrate their worth on the international stage, something Awoniyi is yet to do with Nigeria.

There has been plenty of interest in 21-year-old Awoniyi, however, and with good reason. The young Nigerian spent last season on loan at Mouscron in Belgium and he scored 14 times in all competitions

The next goal for Awoniyi was sorting out his future and he did that with another loan move to FSV Mainz 05.

Victor Osimhen – Lille

At 6ft 1, Osimhen is a commanding presence on the pitch, and his height will be a a huge asset for Lille over the next few years, although the striker also has great ability with the ball at his feet.

After scoring 20 times for Sporting Charleroi last season, Osimhen decided to follow in the footsteps of compatriots Peter Odemwingie and Vincent Enyeama by joining Lille.

His impressive form for Charleroi last season earned him a recall to the Super Eagles squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, where his only appearance was when Nigeria won bronze last month.

Osimhen was the top scorer as Nigeria clinched a fifth Under-17 World Cup title in 2015 with 10 goals in Chile, which saw him win the Golden Boot and Silver Ball.

After the tournament he decided against joining English side Arsenal, to sign with the 2009 German champions Wolfsburg in January 2016, but injuries restricted him to 16 appearances for the club in all competitions.

Despite being a part of the squad for two years, his lack of games meant he missed out on going to the 2018 World Cup with Nigeria and he swiftly moved to Belgium initially on loan before joining on a permanent deal. He was also part of the Nigeria side that won the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal in November 2015, which also qualified them for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Comparison’s have been made to legendary Super Eagles forward Rashidi Yekini, and Julius Aghahowa, with Osimhen certainly a player worth keeping an eye on. There isn’t currently a tall battering ram of a striker in Nigeria national team, and if Osimhen can continue his development then he could fill that void in the future.

Stephen Odey – KRC Genk

A typical centre forward, Odey has been one of the most prolific Nigerian strikers in recent years, firstly at MFM FC and then for FC Zurich.

The 21-year-old started his career as a right winger but eventually ended up being a striker due to his goalscoring qualities, and is blessed with both power and pace, and has the ability to shoot.

Last season, Odey scored 16 goals in 45 appearances across all competitions for FC Zurich and set up three goals. He joined KRC Genk in the Summer Transfer Window.

Odey is strong, agile and an excellent finisher, especially with his right leg. If he continues to find the net for Genk this season then a call up to the Super Eagles will not be far away, and that will give the striker the chance to prove his undoubted quality.

Henry Onyekuru – Everton

A striker with blistering pace Onyekuru impressed on loan at Galatasaray in the 2018/19 campaign.

The Nigerian international joined Everton from Belgian side KAS Eupen in 2017 before going on loans to Anderlecht and most recently, Galatasaray.

He spent last season at Galatasaray, where he scored 16 goals.

Like Osimhen, Onyekuru was part of the Super Eagles squad for the AFCON this summer. The youngster is not only quick, but can link up play well. and if he can add more goals to his game then a bright future awaits.

Kelechi Iheanacho – Leicester City

Many will wonder why Kelechi Iheanacho is in this list. The truth is that he still remains an important member of the Super Eagles squad despite being dropped for AFCON 2019.

Iheanacho was hotly tipped to be a future star when he burst onto the scene at Manchester City and had instant success on the international stage with seven goals in his first 11 senior appearances.

However, the striker is currently on a torrid run of goal scoring form for club and country, with his last Super Eagles goal coming in November 2017.

The Nigerian has struggled to make an impact at the King Power Stadium since his move from Manchester City in 2017, with his ten goals in 58 appearances no serious threat to knocking.

At 22, age is still on Iheanacho’s side and Rodgers’ arrival signals a fresh start for the striker to work hard in order to fulfil his potential and rediscover his goal scoring form.

Capable of playing on the wing as well as up front, Iheanacho is a determined player who never stops running, while his positional play around the box, and trickery on the ball is excellent.

Other strikers to keep an eye on:

Folarin Balogun – The 18-year-old has been banging in the goals for Arsenal’s youth squad’s for the past few years.

Balogun scored a remarkable 25 goals in 19 appearances in the Under-18 Premier League last season.

All young players like to model themselves on a high-flying pro and conveniently for Balogun, his inspiration is in the Arsenal first team. His idol is Gabonese star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Faustino Anjorin – The 17-year-old is on fire for Chelsea’s U21 this season, scoring two goals so far, and the future looks bright for the forward.

Emmanuel Dennis – The 21-year-old forward scored 7 goals for Club Brugge last term, and already has one this season.

Ibrahim Sunusi – 17-year-old Ibrahim Sunusi was in great form for Nasarawa United last season, netting 10 times in the Nigeria Professional Football League. He is worthy of mention.


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