Tuesday 26 March 2019

/ by Colin Udoh

Hattrick hero Victor Osimhen claims one of the match balls after putting Libya to the sword

A hattrick and an assist saw Victor Osimhen put Libya to the sword on a sweltering afternoon in Asaba as Nigeria’s under 23 Eagles overcame a two-goal first leg deficit to win 4-0 on the day and 4-2 on aggregate.

The Charleroi forward, playing like a man possessed, bustled around the pitch with enough energy to power a battery as the Nigerians struggled to break down their bunkered down opposition.

But break them down they did, as the 20-year-Old, seconded from the senior squad, plundered a hattrick, but still had enough energy left to follow Denis Bonaventure’s shot in the last minute to set up Orji Okonkwo with a fine backheel for the fourth.

The Eagles will now face the winners of the Kenya/Sudan fixture in the final round of qualifying in June.

Osimhen gush-fest done, what else did we learn from the game?

Monstrous as Nigeria won the under 17 World Cup in 2015, Osimhen found the going hard at Wolfsburg but has rediscovered himself with a loan move to Belgium’s Charleroi.
Although he was called up by Super Eagles Gernot Rohr during the German’s early months, he has failed to find a way to break into the side, as Rohr has looked to multiple options in that position
But his value was never in doubt, according to coach Imama Amapakabo
“As soon as we suffered that first leg loss, I spoke to Rohr and I told him I had no doubt in my mind that Victor was one of the players we would need.”
Monday’s performance and result was ample proof that that confidence was not in any way misplaced.
This is the Victor Osimhen we know. This is the Victor Osimhen we love. This is the Victor Osimhen we want to want to bank on for the future.

He may not be seeing much game time at the Porto B side, but Kelechi Nwakali’s powers do not appear to have waned one bit.
Playing as a double pivot with captain Azubuike Okechukwu, Nwakali was the fulcrum around which the Nigerian play revolved. He did not disappoint. The midfielder showed the full range of his phenomenal ability as he both created and destroyed in equal measure. Were it not for Osimhen’s hattrick heroics, he would have been an easy and justified pick for the man of the match award.
How soon can we get him playing regularly at clubside so he can take over Super Eagles midfield duties?

When he guided Rangers to the Nigeria title after three decades of drought, only a few would have doubted his abilities as a coach.
Imama’s Rangers Player delightful football as they edged closer and closer to the prize, and nervous excitement built up. But the coach himself maintained a cautious outlook, one which kept his wards grounded.
This time, it was the opposite. Amapakabo fired up his words with a stirring message at half time, with the Eagles having missed a plethora of good opportunities, including rattling the woodwork three times
“The way he talked to us was very inspiring,” hattrick hero Osimhen said. “He told us to believe in ourselves and keep playing our game and not to worry about anything. That gave us confidence and I want to thank him because without him, we would not be here.”

He has been on fire this season at club level, but against Libya, it was not Taiwo Awoniyi’s day. The ball just refused to break for him in the nearly 80 minutes he spent on the pitch. 
Try as he could, Awoniyi could not get the ball to stick to his feet and plays kept breaking up when it got to him.
It was a bit of a surprise when Imama decided to pull Orji Okonkwo in his first substitution of the game, rather than the Mouscron forward.
But it was to be only a matter of time before the mercy substitution took place, and there is no doubt even Awoniyi himself would have been happy to be rescued from his misery.
That is the bad news. The good news is that the forward remains a quality player, and while Monday may not have been his day, other days will come.

It has been a wee while since fans have been calling for the inclusion of Club Brugge striker Dennis Bonaventure into the Nigeria set up. The forward’s first few touches would have left many wondering what the fuss was about. He lost the ball on almost every occasion, and a fan in the stands went as far as baying for the coaches to take him off, even though Nigeria had made all three allowed substitutions.
But when he came good, he really came good. Bonaventure latched onto a ball on the left channel, left one man for dead on his backside with a little flick, skinned another with a drop of the shoulder, returned to re-destroy the first man with another feint before unleashing a piledriver that the goalkeeper spilled. Osimhen followed up, backheeled it for David Okeke and the rest is history.
Despite his poor start, the Brugge man looks the class forward he has been hyped to be.
Just behind him at left back was a man who came in with no hype. Lobi Stars left back Ebube Duru. His display was total domination of the left side, with Libya offering next to nothing, Duru roamed free and wild, creating chances, delivering crosses and playing combinations. When the Libyans did attempt to break, he was available to stop them in their tracks. Looks a decent prospect for promotion to the senior team. 

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  1. Good Analysis Colin.. But if Victor Osimhem ups his game, Kelechi Ihenacho could miss out on the Nations Cup.. I don't see Rohr taking more than 3 CFs to CAN, coupled with the 4 Wing FWs, which is the Eagles biggest attacking strength..


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