Sports

Rohr must build Eagles attack around red-hot Onuachu

Goal scoring is a key feature of football. A coach sets up his team to score as many goals as possible within the 90 minutes duration of a football game. All tactics and strategies are aimed at creating chances to score goals. Other two departments of football – midfield and defence – are expected to also join the forward players to get goals. After getting enough goals, a team can decide to also defend as a unit. And so, goal scorers are the kings of the game.

The strikers who lead the attack with the aim of scoring the goals get most of the attention in the game. Fans and indeed most stakeholders of the game reckon more with the scorers and of course the creative players who can dribble to create chances for strikers. It is not a surprise that the Federation of International Football Associations, the Confederation of African Football and other top football bodies give the annual Best Player Award mostly to strikers or scorers. Goal indeed is the name of the game. Over the years, Nigeria has produced quality strikers. In the modern era, the late Rasidi Yekini stands out as a scorer of high repute.

There were also notable ones like Richard Owobokiri, Uwem Ekarika, Victor Agali, Victor Ikpeba, Jonathan Akpoborie, Chukwu Ndukwe, Julius Aghahowa, Obafemi Martins, Ikechuckwu Uche, Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Odion Ighalo just to mention a few. Many support strikers and playmakers have also excelled but that is a story for another day. It is important to stress that not all the strikers excel in national colours of Nigeria. Yekini was a monster for clubs and country.

Aiyegbeni excelled more for his clubs than the Eagles; Martins, Aghahowa, Uche and Ighalo were great for club and country. How well the scorers perform depends largely on the national team coach of the country. Coaches are expected to build the attack round the goal scorer and should work towards making the team to play to the strength of the striker. This is important to make scoring easier for the team. The best Nigerian scorer in the past two seasons is Paul Onuachu of Belgian club, KRC Genk.

He has registered 22 goals and two assists for his team in the 2020/2021 football season. He has been consistent and could surpass the 30-goal mark with his good form this term. It is however disturbing that this striker who scores goals with ease at club level is not a regular starter in the Eagles despite his exploits in Europe.

He currently has seven UEFA Champions League goals to his credit in the past two seasons. This shows that the Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr is deficient. It is his duty to make Onuachu excel in the national team. Rohr should adopt a pattern that suits the style of the scorer. For example, since he has height and also good in the air, the traditional wing play is best for the team with the instruction to the wingers to provide quality crosses for Onuachu. Yekini was not too skillful. He had pace, height, strength and positioning which the then coach Clemens Westerhof built upon. George Finidi from the right and Emmanuel Amuneke from the left provided the crosses from the flanks for Yekini to score goals.

In Europe, Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich with 24 goals is top on the scorers chat, Andre Silva of Frankfurt has 16 goals while Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah of Liverpool has 15 goals respectively.

Onuachu is only second to Lewandoski with 22 goals but the Belgian League is not rated among top five in Europe. His goals helped his team to place third in the table behind FC Brugge and Royal Antwerp. Onuachu has scored 22 of his team’s 49 goals this term. With 43 points, they have won 12, drawn 11 and lost six in the current campaign. Rohr will have to create a starting role for Onuachu.

He can play upfront along with Victor Osimhen but certainly, he should be starting for the Super Eagles based on his current form. The Nigerian has scored more than Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Luis Suarez, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and a host of other celebrated strikers in world football. The Eagles manager should monitor Onuacbu in his club to see how he converts chances so that he can bring such pattern to the national team. The Eagles attack should be built around Onuachu. Even if he is not getting it right now, he will get better with time because he is a natural goal poacher.

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