…Iheanacho Nets 27th Goal In 115 Appearances For Foxes
…Super Eagles Goalie Okoye Concedes Goal No 28 For Sparta
By Oluyemi Ogunseyin
Simy Nwankwo (Crotone)
Simy Nwankwo scored twice in Crotone’s 4-2 defeat of Torino in a frenetic affair at the Stadio Ezio Scida on Sunday afternoon to take all three points in the battle of the basement teams.
Simy opened scoring for the home team when he converted from the spot on 27 minutes after Cristian Ansaldi handled the ball inside the vistors’ box. The Nigerian striker made no mistake with his penalty as he calmly sent Salvatore Sirigu the wrong way to give Crotone the advantage.
The lead lasted for 18 minutes as Rolando Mandragora equalised for Torino on the dot of half time.
Simy however restored Crotone’s advantage after the restart, rifling home from close range after Junior Messias forced Sirigu into action with a low driven effort which the goalkeeper failed to save properly as it landed at the feet of the Nigerian.
The goal was Simy’s 10th in 26 Serie A appearances so far this term and 20th overall in 70 appearances across three seasons.
Despite the Nigerian’s goals, Crotone are still bottom of the Serie A table with 15 points from 26 games with Torino four points ahead in 18th position on the 20-team log.
Josh Maja, Ademola Lookman, Ola Aina, Tosin Adarabioyo (Fulham)
The Nigerian quartet were in action Sunday evening as they handed Liverpool their sixth home defeat in a row. The 1-0 win lifted the Cottagers closer to safety. Ola Aina made his 24th start in 24 games as he helped Scott Parker’s side to eighth clean sheets in the games he featured in while another defender, Adarabioyo also made it ninth clean sheets in 23 starts.
The duo of defenders Maja and Lookman also played their part in the victory albeit they didn’t finish the game. Maja, secured on loan from Bordeaux last month was on for 67 minutes in his sixth start in seven appearances in the Premier League while Lookman who has scored four times for Fulham this season lasted a bit longer as he was on for 83 minutes. It was his 25th game in the competition for Fulham.
Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)
Kelechi Iheanacho on Saturday scored his third Premier League goal of the season to help Leicester City come from behind to beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 at the Amex Stadium.
Iheanacho had cancelled out Adam Lallana’s first Seagulls goal by calmly lifting the ball over Brighton goalkeeper, Robert Sanchez with 62 minutes on the clock before a late win.
Leicester Mercury wrote this about Iheanacho: “Kelechi Iheanacho: He was keen to get on the ball in the first half and tried to find Vardy when he could but his touch wouldn’t stick.
“He then showed excellent composure to score again, waiting for Sanchez to go low then scooping the ball over him. He is making the most of this run in the team.” He was rated 7.
Iheanacho has now struck the back of the net in each of his last two Premier League appearances, having netted in just one of his previous 17 in the English top-flight competition.
The goal has brought his total tally to 27 in 115 appearances for the Foxes in all competitions. He has now scored 12 goals and bagged 11 assists in 86 appearances in the Premier League; six each in 11 games in the FA Cup and League Cup respectively and three in seven Europa League games.
Wilfred Ndidi also saw full action but got a very low rating of 4 with Leicester Mercury writing: “Wilfred Ndidi: Not himself. On the ball, too many simple passes were off target.
“Meanwhile, he overran it on occasion too. He was never in the right place to cut out Brighton’s dangerous attacks either.” Ndidi has a goal and two assists in 16 EPL games this term.
William Troost-Ekong, Isaac Success, Tom Dele-Bashiru (Watford); Sammy Ameobi (Nottingham Forest)
Former Nigerian U-20 star, Isaac Success finally returned to competitive football action Saturday afternoon after over a year on the sidelines as he made a cameo appearance in his club, Watford’s 1-0 defeat of visiting Nottingham Forest at the Vicarage Road stadium.
Success last featured for the Hornets in March last year, coming on in the final 15 minutes of Watford’s 3-2 loss to Everton at the Vicarage Road stadium.
The Nigerian had an achilles tendon rupture and missed the remainder of the 2019/20 season, featuring in just seven games viz five in the Premier League as he was unable to help the club fight relegation to the Skybet Championship.
He didn’t start any of the five games but started the only FA Cup and ELF Cup game he played for the club.
Success began his journey back to competitive football action when he made Watford’s Matchday squad in the Hornets’ 2-0 defeat of Wycombe Wanderers three days ago before making an appearance on Saturday in the win over Forest.
The game was Success’ first Skybet Championship appearance and 55th in all competitions for Watford and he came on to replace Joao Pedro in the 88th minute.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s vice captain, William Troost-Ekong made his 23rd start in 24 games from which he has scored once to help Watford secure all three points against Forest.
However, the return date of midfielder, Tom Dele-Bashiru who had played two Championship matches for Watford during the 2020/21 season before picking up an injury is not yet known.
Sammy Ameobi who is on the pay-roll of Forest was benched all through. The lanky Nigerian attacking sensation has three goals and one assist in 27 league games this term.
John Obi Mikel (Stoke City)
John Obi Mikel started and finished Saturday’s SkyBet Championship game that was played at the Bet365 Stadium which saw Stoke City hand out a 2-0 defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.
Mikel has played 28 league matches this season with one assist and five bookings to his name but the former Chelsea midfielder is still to find the back of the net for Stoke.
Ovie Ejaria, Sone Aluko (Reading)
The Nigerian duo of Ovie Ejaria and Sone Aluko had contrasting fortunes when Reading thrashed Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 in Saturday’s SkyBet Championship game which was played at the Madejski Stadium.
Ejaria did not even make the entire match-day squad for Reading while fellow, compatriot, Aluko did not start but came on to take the place of Lucas Joao in the 67th minute of the league encounter.
Ejaria has scored two goals and contributed five assists in 29 Championship appearances this season while Aluko has struck the back of the net two times and weighed in with one assist in 27 games.
Tyronne Ebuehi (FC Twente Enschede)
Super Eagles defender, Tyronne Ebuehi made his 24th appearance of the 2020/21 Eredivisie campaign on Saturday as FC Twente Enschede played out a 1-1 draw with Willem II at De Grolsch Veste.
Ebuehi made yet another start for the club-side which he teamed up with last summer and played for 66 minutes in the game before the defender was taken off and replaced by Nathangelo Markelo.
The 24-year-old scored his first Twente goal in a 2-2 draw versus Feyenoord in an Eredivisie encounter two weeks ago. He has also contributed one other assist in 24 Dutch top-flight outings. The Nigerian has now made 95 starts in 102 Eredivise appearances.
Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam)
Maduka Okoye failed in his bid for a sixth clean-sheet of the season following Sparta Rotterdam’s 1-1 draw with FC Emmen in Friday’s Eredivisie game at the De Oude Meerdijk.
Okoye made his 18th league appearance for the Red and White Gladiators against Emmen but despite his efforts, his side only managed to share the points as the tie ended 1-1.
Laros Duarte opened the scoring for Sparta Rotterdam moments before the half-time break and they were on the verge of clinching three points before conceding a late penalty.
And that was after Adil Auassar was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area. Michael de Leeuw then gave Okoye no chance when he fired his shot into the net for a draw.
Okoye has been leaking in goals aplenty and for the record, the German-born Nigerian goalkeeper last kept a clean-sheet on January 28 when Sparta drew goalless with Twente.
The Super Eagles shot-stopper even has it worse when it comes to helping his club win football matches as Sparta are on an eight-game winless streak in the Dutch top-flight.
Sparta also known as The Red-White Gladiators or The Castle Lords last won an Eredivisie match on January 13 when it beat Fortuna Sittard 1-0 at the Fortuna Sittard Stadion.
The goal the Nigerian conceded versus Emmen took his tally to 28 in just 13 outings while he has now kept clean-sheets in five matches after making a total of 18 appearances.
Samuel Chukwueze (Villareal)
Samuel Chukwueze made his 20th La Liga appearance of the season against Valencia at the Estadio Mestalla on Friday as Villarreal failed to bounce back from defeat after losing 2-1.
Chukwueze appeared to be back to his best after his Man of the Match performance in a 2-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in a league game played at the Estadio de La Ceramica last weekend.
The Villarreal and Super Eagles ace recently overcome a groin injury which needed surgery after it compromised his overall displays for the Yellow Submarine over the course of time.
Despite the loss to leaders, Atletico, Chukwueze was the most dangerous player on the pitch with the most key passes (4), most completed dribbles (4) and the most fouled player (5).
And despite Villarreal also picking up yet another defeat against Valencia on Friday, the 21-year-old did give a very good account of himself as he was on for the entire 90 minutes.
The Nigerian international made his second straight start for the Yellow Submarine and made his contribution in the fixture but his effort was enough to help his side avoid a defeat.
He started in the midfield, made one key pass, completed one dribble and had a 75 percent successful pass rate in the game. He has a goal and three assists in 20 league games this term.
Odion Ighalo (Al Shabab FC); Leke James, Stanley Ohawuchi (Al Qadasiya)
The trio of Nigerian forwards, Odion Ighalo, Leke James and Stanley Ohawuchi all started and finished Friday’s Saudi Professional League game which saw Al Shabab FC and Al Qadasiya draw 1-1.
Ighalo was in action for Al Shabab while the pair of James and Ohawuchi represented Al Qadasiya as the two clubs shared the spoils in the match played at the King Fahd International Stadium.
Ohawuchi scored the opening goal of the Saudi Arabian top-flight encounter in the 45th minute to give the visiting side a 1-0 lead before the home team snatched an equaliser in stoppage time.
The former Nigerian U-20 international has so far found the back of the net on four occasions and contributed six other assists in 21 Saudi Pro League appearances for Al Qadasiya this season.
The 30-year-old Ohawuchi is more of a normadic footballer, having been at Bayelsa United (Nigeria), Silema Wanderers (Malta), Athletico Beleares (Spain), Zamalek and Wadi Degla (both in Egypt).
Ighalo on his own part failed to add to his tally of three goals after making six league appearances for Al Shabab whom he joined only in the month of February, he also has one other assist.
The third Nigerian striker, James is yet to find his bearing for Al Qadasiya whom he also joined last month from Molde of Norway, having made just one assist in five league outings thus far.
Kevin Akpoguma (Hoffenheim)
Kevin Akpoguma who just recovered from a hamstring injury was not 100 per cent fit to feature in Hoffenheim’s 2-1 Bundesliga win against ten-man Wolfsburg at the Prezero Arena on Saturday.
Hoffenheim boss, Sebastian Hoeness had suggested that Saturday’s German Bundesliga encounter against Wolfsburg at the Prezero Arena will come too early for Akpoguma to take part in.
There was good news concerning Akpoguma on Wednesday with Hoffenheim officially confirming the Nigerian international had finally made a return to training after a two-month injury lay-off.
Akpoguma had been nursing a hamstring injury with his last Bundesliga appearance coming on January 2 when he was replaced by Sebastian Rudy on 17 minutes as Hoffenheim fell 3-1 to Freiburg at home.
Since then, the Super Eagles defender has missed twelve matches across all competitions for Hoffenheim which was dumped out of the Europa League by Molde at the Rhein-Neckar Arena two Thursdays ago.
But last Wednesday, Super Eagles boss, Gernot Rohr was handed an injury boost ahead of the 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifying matches against Benin and Lesotho with the return to training of Akpoguma.
The 25-year-old Akpoguma has so far, so good made appearances in 19 games across all competitions for Hoffenheim during the 2020/21 season from which he has found the back of the net on only one occasion.
Jamilu Collins (Paderborn)
Jamilu Collins was suspended for Paderborn’s 3-2 Bundesliga 2 loss to Darmstadt at the Benteler-Arena on Friday due to the accumulation of yellow cards after being booked five times already this season.
Collins made his 15th Bundesliga 2 appearance of the 2020/21 season for Paderborn which fell 1-0 to Jahn Regensburg in an encounter which was played at the Jahnstadion Regensburg on the 26th of February.
The Super Eagles left full-back was on from the start but did not finish the game after picking up a 39th minute yellow card and was replaced by Svante Ingelsson nine minutes to the end of the tie.
That happened to be the fifth time that the defender would be cautioned so far during the 2020/21 season and he automatically missed out on his club-side’s league game which took place on Friday.
Nigerian international, Collins recently put pen to paper on a new one-year contract with Paderborn which was relegated from the Bundesliga after spending just one season in the German top-flight.
Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto)
Nigerian defender, Zaidu Sanusi was not in action when FC Porto handed out a 2-0 defeat away to Gil Vicente in Saturday’s Portuguese Taca da liga game which held at the Municipal de Barcelos.
The 23-year-old left full-back was in the match-day squad of Porto but he stayed on the ben all through the encounter which was quite surprising as he has been a regular starter at the club.
Sanusi since moving to Porto from Santa Clara in the summer transfer window of last year has played 19 league matches from which the defender has scored one goal and made another assist.
The disciplined Nigerian left full-back has also been shown the yellow card on two occasions in the Portuguese top-flight so far during the 2020/21 season while he has been sent off once.
The 23-year-old netted his only league goal for Porto till date on 5 December, 2020 as early as four minutes when his side beat Tondela 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller at the Estadio Do Dragao.
Sanusi on 23 December, 2020 won the Portuguese Super Cup with Porto after beating rivals, Benfica 2-0 at Estadio Municipal de Aveiro which was the first trophy of his professional career.
Leon Balogun, Joe Aribo (Glasgow Rangers)
The Nigerian duo of Balogun and Joe Aribo have won their first ever league title of their football careers with Scottish heavyweight side, Glasgow Rangers.
Aribo was on from start to finish on Saturday when Rangers swept aside St Mirren 3-0 at Ibrox Stadium to clinch the Scottish Premiership title.
While Balogun did not make the entire match-day squad of Rangers, Aribo was highly instrumental in helping the club to maintain their perfect home record with a 16th win.
Rangers players and staff rushed to a corner of the stadium at full-time to acknowledge fans who had flouted covid lockdown restrictions by gathering outside hours before kick-off.
The Gers were crowned Scottish Premiership champions for the very first time since the year 2011 after Celtic drew match away away at Dundee United on Sunday.
Aribo has found the back of the net six times and made four assists in 25 Scottish league appearances this season, an improvement on his three goals for Rangers in 27 matches last term.
Balogun on his own part has made 16 Scottish top-flight appearances for the Gers during the 2020/21 campaign but the defender has been struggling with a knock in the last few weeks.
Efe Ambrose (Livingston)
Former Nigerian international, Efe Ambrose was on the bench as Livingston suffered a 3-1 defeat to home side, Motherwell in a Scottish Premiership encounter at Fir Park on Saturday.
Ambrose who is currently a player/coach at Livingston has made 19 league appearances this season from which the 32-year-old veteran defender has so far picked up two yellow cards.
Brian Idowu (FC Khimki)
Nigerian defender, Bryan Idowu as usual saw full action in his 19th Russian Premier League game of the season on Saturday when FK Khimki drew 0-0 with FC Rotor Volgograd at the Volgograd Arena.
The on-loan Lokomotiv Moscow defender who has two goals this term had a rating of 7.3, completed 75% of his passes, made 3 clearances, 2 interceptions and also won two of his duels.