Fulham are currently in the battle to escape relegation from the English Premier League with four Nigerian players playing crucial roles for the Cottagers’ survival bid. In this piece, Complete Sports’ Sulaiman Alao examines the impact the quartet of Ola Aina, Tosin Adarabioyo, Ademola Lookman and Josh Maja has had so far in Fulham’s ongoing quest to stay afloat in the English topflight. And with just a dozen games left to play while Fulham are perched precariously in the 18th position on the league table, can the Nigerian ‘Fantastic Four’ help the Cottagers to survive the drop?
OLA AINA (right/left back)
Super Eagles defender, Ola Aina has been a mainstay as a right or left-back for Fulham since joining the side at the start of the season on loan from Italian Serie A side, Torino where he had spent the last two consecutive seasons.
The 24-year old versatile defender has played virtually in all of Fulham’s games having started all of his 22 appearances and substituted out four times to clock 1,912 minutes so far for the Craven Cottage outfit.
Aina, aside his solid defensive displays has scored two goals and made one assist as Fulham continue the race to escape relegation. His first goal cemented Fulham’s 2-0 win over West Brom last November while his second in the 1-1 draw at Burnley last month earned the Cottagers a valuable point.
TOSIN ADARABIOYO (centre-back)
Nigeria-born defender Tosin Adarabioyo has been rock-solid in the heart of Fulham central defence since linking up with the side from Championship side Blackburn Rovers at the start of the season.
Adarabioyo’s partnership with Joachim Andersen has helped Fulham to concede the least goals, 32, among the three relegation strugglers with West Brom and Sheffield United having conceded 55 and 43 goals respectively after 26 round of matches. Adarabioyo has helped Fulham keep eight clean sheets in the 22 games he has featured in so far including four in the last five games.
The 23-year old who is set to snub Nigeria for England has started and played all 90 minutes in the 22 appearances he has made for Fulham to clock 1,980 minutes so far in the season.
ADEMOLA LOOKMAN (forward)
Super Eagles prospect Ademola Lookman is getting to fulfil his goalscoring potentials in the Premier League which could be crucial in Fulham’s quest to escape the drop.
Lookman’s earlier stints in the Premier League had yielded no goal in 29 games for Everton across two seasons in 888 minutes of football but the 23-year old has bagged four goals and three assists in 23 appearances for Fulham in the ongoing season.
The 23-year old striker is currently the second highest scorer for Fulham behind 28-year old Bobby Reid with five goals and one assist in 24 games for the Cottagers.
Two of his goals have earned Fulham a combined total of four points. He scored in the 1-1 draw at Sheffield United last October and fired in the winner in the 1-0 win in the reverse fixture just last month. His goal in the 2-1 win at Leicester City also helped the Cottagers to all three points in the encounter.
Lookman also provided assists in the 1-1 draws against visiting Liverpool last December and at Tottenham Hotspur in January.
JOSH MAJA (forward)
The coming of Nigerian forward, Josh Maja to Fulham has rejuvenated the team’s attacking line with the fringe Super Eagles striker having hit the ground running for the Cottagers.
Maja joined Fulham on the last day of the January transfer window in a celebrated loan move from French Ligue 1 side Bordeaux where he has struggled for regular playing time. The Nigerian’s arrival at Fulham is already boosting the team’s chances of relegation survival. His two goals at Goodison Park against Everton last month has reinvigorated the Cottagers who have taken eight points in the four games he has featured since his switch.
Fulham’s Remaining Fixtures
vs Tottenham (H)
vs Liverpool (A)
vs Man City (H)
vs Leeds Utd (H)
vs Aston Vila (A)
vs Wolves (H)
vs Arsenal (A)
vs Chelsea (A)
vs Burnley (H)
vs Southampton (A)
vs Man Utd (A)
vs Newcastle (H)