It turned out to be a weekend of thrills and goals in pre-season matches for Nigerian players, as Victor Osimhen and Eberechi Eze both scored hat-tricks for their new clubs in Italy and England respectively, while Kenneth Omeruo was also on song for CD Leganes of Spain and Ahmed Musa scored during league action in Saudi Arabia, megasportsarena.com reports.
While only a handful of Nigerian lads made their impacts felt in competitive matches starting on Friday through Saturday, and a number of them were also out injured, Osimhen showed signs of great things ahead of him at Napoli with three goals under eight minutes, while Eze also signaled his arrival at Crystal Palace with a treble as well.
Eze’s salvo came less than 12 hours after his mouth-watering transfer from Queens Park Rangers had been confirmed, which was earlier of the same day Osimhen impressed during his first game in a Napoli shirt, as he helped The Azzurri romp to a 21-0 aggregate scores in a triangular contest against Castel di Sangro and L’Aquila.
The Chile 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup gold medalist and top scorer was on the bench for the first game, in which Napoli beat the hosts 10-0 in the first 45-minutes fixture, during which Matteo Politano grabbed a hat-trick, Arek Milik and Amin Younes hit braces, while Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Kalidou Koulibaly and Gianluca Gaetano scored the other goals.
For the second 45 minutes, Napoli’s coach, Gennaro Gattuso named a completely different line-up and Osimhen led the line in attack; which he justified very well by wasting no time at all to impress his club’s fans – as he proceeded to score three times in the first eight minutes!
Osimhen then went on to provide two assists, while further goals by Lorenzo Insigne (3), Dries Mertens (2) and Hirving Lozano (2) and Faouzi Ghoulam (1) ensured Napoli hit double figures again; after which the Nigerian kid expressed glee with his team’s victory and his performance.
The former VfL Wolfsburg of Germany and Sporting Charleroi of Belgium hitman, who cost Napoli more than 70 million Euro in a major summer transfer from Lille Metropole of France, was happy that he did not waste time before he began to justify the huge investment that the Naples-based Italian Serie A club made on him.
The product of Ultimate Strikers Football Academy of Lagos, who is now the most expensive Nigerian player, spotted jersey number nine in Friday’s encounter against the Italian Serie D club, during which he first struck after just two minutes then made it 2-0 a minute later and got his hat-trick in the eighth minute.
Vastly popular Italian daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport reeled superlatives on Osimhen in their report about the match, while also hailing what they described as ‘his devastating shot and fury’ all through the encounter that completely overwhelmed the fourth-tier L’Aquila; but his coach said he is expecting a lot more from the Super Eagles rookie during the main season.
Gattuso stated: “I’m happy for Victor but let’s leave him in peace to focus on his football. He’s settling in well. He’s a quality player with great ability. He knows what he can do and if he keeps on working hard he can have a big impact.”
In England, Eberechi Eze was also on song three times for Crystal Palace in a training session, just few hours after they confirmed their signing of Nigerian-born attacking midfielder on a five-year deal from lower division fellow-London-based side, Queens Park Rangers.
The Eagles are set to give the England under-21 international his first feel of action in the English Premier League and Eze showed just how eager he is to hit the ground running, as he struck three goals during his first training period with the squad he officially joined on Friday.
Barely six hours after meeting his new teammates for the first time, Eze got his career off to a flying start with The Eagles by netting three goals in the space of twenty seconds during his first workout and the 22-year-old dazzler went on to get a starting spot in his non-competitive debut but could not score during Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Charlton Athletic.
That marked a sign of better things to come for the dread-locks-wearing dazzler that earned the move to Palace after a stunning campaign with QPR; during which he hit 14 goals and got eight assists in 46 English Championship appearances for The Hoops.
In Spain, Kenneth Omeruo opened scoring and helped Leganes beat Elbar 3-1 in a pre-season friendly, as the dark-skinned central defender headed home a corner after just three minutes to set the path towards victory of the side that were relegated from the Spanish LaLiga last season.
Leganes are preparing to play next season in the Spanish Segunda Liga and, although Omeruo had initially been linked with an exit from the demoted side, in order not to let their slump affect his status in the Nigerian national team, he was on Saturday part of what became their second win in pre-season.
It took Omeruo only three minutes to open the scoring as he headed in a corner taken by Dani Ojeda, while Rosales and José Arnaiz also hit the bull’s eye, as Leganes got a 3-0 lead inside 40 minutes, before Quique reduced the deficit from the spot in second half stoppage time.
Of the eleven players that started the game for Leganes, only Omeruo and two others went the full 90 minutes, and the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner is already billed to join the team for their next pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano at Butarque Municipal Stadium.
However, reports styll indicated that Omeruo might yet be on his way out of Leganes, as he has drawn interest from a couple of clubs in Spain’s top-flight division as well as the duo of Galatasaray and Fernebahce of Turkey, where he previously played on loan for two separate seasons as Kasimpasa and one in between at Alayanspor.
In Saudi Arabia, Ahmed Musa scored a long-distance goal for Al-Nassr and helped his side romp to a 6-1 victory over Al-Adalah, against who the Super Eagles’ captain started his 18th game of the season, at the end of which his team narrowed the lead atop the log to six points.
The visitors also struck first 13 minutes into the game through Carolus Andria, but Al- Nassr hit back twice in quick succession from Hamdallah and Amrabat, after which Musa made it 3-1 two minute before the half-hour when he struck a sizzling volley.
Two other goals by Giuliano and Hamdallah completed a 5-1 the first half, and the 27-year-old Musa, who got a rating of 7.5 and completed 86% of his passes, was taken off at the interval, following which substitute Abdulaziz Al-Dawsari wrapped up victory with a goal in stoppage time to seal Al-Nassr’s 6-1 win.
In Holland, Emmanuel Emegha revealed that he was delighted at his ability to start well with Sparta Rotterdam, as he pulled off a sparkling display in a pre-season friendly against fellow-Dutch Eredivisie side, RKC Waalwijk.
The 17-year-old centre-forward, whose twin brother, Joshua, features for Sparta’s under-18 side, got a starting role in his side’s 1-1 draw after which the fast-rising lad, whose mother is a Nigerian, father is from Togo and he was born in Holland, put up a reflection of the form that has seen him capped at under-15 level by the country of his birth.
Emegha, who was replaced in the 69th minute of the build-up encounter that also had former Fortuna Dusseldorf of Germany goalkeeper, Emil Maduka Okoye on from the start for Sparta, said afterwards: “The trainer showed confidence in me.”