Paul Onuachu

In what felt very much like 90 minutes of post-season football, especially after an intense schedule for all involved. Nigeria versus Cameroon failed to excite.

Unsurprisingly betraying the atmosphere of a heated Derby, there were few talking points from Nigeria’s dour 1-0 defeat against their rival neighbours in Austria.

The first installment of two friendlies this month, this game ended the Super Eagles’ three-game unbeaten run against the Indomitable Lions.

As Zambo Anguissa’s strike in the 37th minute ended Cameroon’s run of four games without a win. The only notable outcome for Nigeria was that Abraham Marcus, Terem Moffi and Valentine Ozornwafor were handed their international debuts.

Betway Nigeria

Elsewhere, Paul Onuachu remains the Super Eagles’ biggest mystique. During a season where he scored 29 times for Genk in the Belgian Pro League, the Owerri-born hitman has risen to the limelight.

He has savoured the extra attention throughout the season and even netted Nigeria’s all-important winner in the AFCON qualifier against Benin, before a well-taken goal three days later at home to Lesotho.

Par for the course, the towering frontman’s 29 goals came from 31 starts. Appearing 41 times and registering 35 goals with five assists in all competitions for The Smurfs, Onuachu’s goals have been worth their weight in gold for the second-placed Belgian Cup winners as he won the league’s Footballer of The Year and Top Goalscorer awards.

Becoming the highest-scoring African in Europe’s top 10 leagues, Onuachu’s brilliant form has rightly attracted interest from all over Europe, with a €25 million valuation already placed on the goal-machine.

Getting the best out of Onuachu 

Meanwhile, it is a different story in international football for the gentle giant, despite leaving Danish giants Midtjylland he has proven himself in a higher-rated championship. However, his finest moments in green and white have come as a substitute.

The wonderful arrowed shot on his first start against Egypt was Nigeria’s fastest-ever goal(10seconds), before another forgettable showing in the AFCON 2019 opener against Burundi. Opportunities would come few and far between until March 2021 when he spectacularly reproduced his club form in Nigeria’s hour of need.

Paul Onuachu
Onuachu scored his first competitive international goals in March from the bench.

Friday night’s game opened up an opportunity for Onuachu to stake his claim and impress Gernot Rohr as a starter – given the large number of withdrawals from the squad due to injury – ahead of AFCON in January.

The opportunity did arrive to break the deadlock in the third minute. His header was parried by goalkeeper Simon Omossola, some moments later he tried another attempt but it was wide off target.

From then on, Onuachu failed to get a sniff at goal as Nigeria’s attack remarkably slowed down despite dominating possession. 

It validates the suspicion that the Genk man is better-equipped as an impact player against tired defenses. At least in international football.

So far, all three of Onuachu’s goals for Nigeria have been manufactured finishes from instinctively being goalside around the box, rather than as a result of tailor-made service to the clinical forward. While Rohr remains reluctant to play to his considerable aerial and physical strengths, it leaves Onuachu best-suited for when the team needs a gung-ho in search of a goal.

The 27-year-old has been patient enough to wait for his opportunities while he remained a prolific figure for his club, however, the absence of Victor Osimhen from this month’s double-header against the Indomitable Lions will leave Rohr with the feeling that Onuachu should be his impact sub in Cameroon 2022.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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