Ahead of Saturday’s 2022 African Cup of Nations qualifier against the Republic of Benin, Super Eagles boss, Gernot Rohr is unarguably spoilt for choice when it comes to the number nine position as he has three great strikers who know their way to goal.

The duo of Paul Onuachu of KRC Genk in Belgium and Kelechi Iheanacho who plays for Premier League club-side, Leicester City have been on fire this season while Victor Osimhen who is just getting his groove back has equally not done badly at SSC Napoli.

That being said and prior to the 2022 AFCON qualification encounter against the Squirrels of Benin at the Stade Charles de Gaulle in Porto-Novo on Saturday, 27 March, the three strikers, Osimhen, Onuachu and Iheanacho are in serious contention to start.

And as it stands, goal-scoring should not pose any form of problem for the Nigerian national team with the three afore-mentioned forwards having plundered in a combined 42 goals across all competitions among themseslves for their respective club-sides.

If one is also permitted to add a certain Henry Onyekuru who has been performing wonders since joining Galatasaray of Turkey on loan from AS Monaco of France in the January transfer window into the mix, then, the Super Eagles should score goals aplenty.

However, Onuachu who made a brilliant debut by scoring a stunning volley against Egypt in an international friendly on March 26, 2019, a game which Nigeria won 1-0 has failed to justify his Super Eagles call-up in recent times despite scoring for Genk.

Complete Sports reporter, Oluyemi Ogunseyin takes a good look at each of the four strikers that have been invited by Rohr for Nigeria’s qualifiers versus Benin and Lesotho and their form at their respective club-sides so far during the 2020/21 season…

Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy)

Date of birth/Age: Dec 29, 1998 (22)

Caps/Goals: 9/5

Victor Osimhen scored on his return from injury to help Napoli secure a 3-1 victory over Bologna in a Serie A match which was played at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on.

The 22-year-old had been out of action since February 21 when he suffered a head trauma against Atalanta also in an Italian league game. The Nigerian international landed awkwardly and hit his head on the turf following a collision with Cristian Romero in the encounter.

The forward was subsequently rushed to the hospital where he spent the night but after undergoing several tests, he was cleared of any serious injury but advised to rest before playing again.

Subsequently, Osimhen missed the Parthenopeans seven consecutive games across all competitions but he made his much-awaited return in style at Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, scoring his third goal of the season in 13 Serie A games, he also has one assist.

Osimhen is the Super Eagles first-choice striker and leading the team’s charge in the 2022 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, having now scored four goals and rendered two assists in only three matches.

Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England)

Date of birth/Age: Oct 3, 1996 (24)

Caps/Goals: 23/7

Kelechi Iheanacho has rediscovered himself with the Leicester City attacker now getting game time on a regular basis for his English Premier League club so far during the 2020/21 season after falling out of favour in previous campaigns.

The 24-year-old Iheanacho is having his most prolific season as a Leicester player after his brace against Manchester United in the FA Cup on Sunday increased his tally to twelve goals in 28 appearances in all competitions this season.

The Nigerian forward by netting twice in the Foxes 3-1 win over Man United in the quarter-final on Sunday broke the record set by Didier Drogba for the most goals scored by an African player in the FA Cup. Iheanacho now has 13 goals while Drogba has twelve.

Iheanacho has now had a direct hand in 15 goals (11 goals and 4 assists) in his 15 starts across all competitions for the Foxes so far this season. It is also the first time in 39 years that Leicester will reach the last-four of the FA Cup.

In October, he marked his Eagles comeback by scoring in a 1-1 draw with Tunisia in a friendly in Austria. That was, however, in the absence of Osimhen who could not leave Italy because of travel restrictions caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium)

Date of birth/Age: May 28, 1994 (26)

Caps/Goals: 7/1

Paul Onuachu was only called-up as replacement for Moses Simon by Nigeria for the 2022 African Cup of Nations qualifying fixtures against both Benin Republic and Lesotho.

Onuachu initiallly made the stand-by list of seven players despite his impressive form in the Belgian Pro League for KRC Genk so far during the 2020/21 season.

The 26-year-old has so far found the back of the net a staggering 27 times and also provided two assists in 32 appearances across all competitions for the Smurfs.

Simon was ruled out of the game following COVID restriction protocols with players coming from France. Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr thereafter extended an invitation to Onuachu.

Onuachu who has always looked lethargic in an Eagles shirt has nonetheless assured that he will give his best if given the opportunity to face the Squirrels of Benin and the Crocodiles of Lesotho.

Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray, Turkey)

Date of birth/Age: Jun 5, 1997 (23)

Caps/Goals: 11/1

Galatasaray striker, Henry Onyekuru was brought in to replace the injured Bordeaux winger, Samuel Kalu in the Super Eagles squad for the upcoming games against the Benin Republic and Lesotho.

Onyekuru was one of the seven players placed on the stand-by list but got on the main list just a couple of days after netting a brace for Galatasaray in a 3-0 Turkish Super Lig spanking of Kayserispor.

Prior to being invited for the 2022 AFCON qualifiers against Benin and Lesotho, Onyekuru had not been called-up to the Super Eagles since the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt due to his inactivity at club level.

A loan move to Galatasaray, his third spell at the Turkish Super Lig outfit has helped get his career back on track. The 23-year-old has now scored four of his five goals playing as a substitute in ten top-flight appearances for Galatasaray.

Onyekuru scored thrice in his first two games against Gaziantep FK (brace) on January 29 and Istanbul Basaksehir on February 2 but fired blanks in his previous six league ties before netting twice versus Kayserispor.

By Oluyemi Ogunseyin

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