Are we in a golden age of Nigerian strikers? |

With so many frontmen in prime type, the joy inside the nation’s fanbase has arguably by no means been increased

Gernot Rohr could not admit it, however he most likely rues the very fact the Africa Cup of Nations isn’t being held within the low season in June, owing to the choices he’d have at centre-forward.

Choices, in principle, interprets to firepower, and no supervisor in fashionable soccer runs from that. Whereas observers will level to the upshot of the paradox of selection probably affecting the eventual decision-making course of, the German has most likely by no means had it this good in his profession.

The gamers accessible for the central putting position are, however not restricted to, Victor Osimhen, Paul Onuachu, Simy, Umar Sadiq and, to a lesser extent, Kelechi Iheanacho as a result of he performs deeper and isn’t an out-and-out goalscorer.

The Napoli frontman, underwhelming exhibiting vs Inter Milan on Sunday apart, has proven indicators of a return to type after a tough trip from November into the New Yr the place accidents and sickness understandably impacted his type and health. Nevertheless, the hiatus in March incited the response Gennaro Gattuso most likely needed and the ahead has gone on to attain or help 4 instances in his final 5 appearances for membership and nation.

Regardless of the type of different countrymen ostensibly vying for a spot because the Tremendous Eagles’ quantity 9, Osimhen possible leads the road when Afcon comes round anyway. Due to this fact, the 22-year-old’s current uptick is music to everybody’s ears.

Nonetheless, apart from Nigeria’s costliest participant of all time, the opposite decisions pose thought-provoking questions for Rohr.

Onuachu’s return for Genk this time period could also be the most effective of his profession, however the archetypal goal man is just not unfamiliar with discovering the again of the web frequently, evidenced by his exploits in Denmark. He netted 19, 10 and 17 targets in his final three campaigns with Midtjylland and, by the point he departed in 2019, had unquestionably outgrown the Danish Superliga.

A difficult maiden yr in Belgium the place defending champions Genk disappointingly ended seventh didn’t replicate properly on the towering striker who solely discovered the again of the web 9 instances in 17 begins. Whereas this wasn’t a poor return, it was the primary time he hadn’t hit double figures in league soccer since 2016.

Given the moderately underwhelming nature of his opening yr, this time period’s upsurge in entrance of aim has been putting. 29 league targets in 33 appearances (31 begins) is spectacular by any normal and a breakdown of Onuachu’s return replicate his profile as a goal man and penalty field frontman: each strike has been from inside the 18-yard space with 10 headed targets emphasising his aerial power.

When put next with Simy, a participant with comparable bodily attributes, the refined distinction in each presents attention-grabbing findings. The Crotone frontman has scored 17 instances in Serie A, however just one has been along with his head, whereas the opposite 16 have been right-footed strikes.

Nwankwo Simy Crotone Bologna Serie A

The aforementioned not solely hints on the striker’s one-footedness however relative weak spot within the air.

He’s notably received solely 39 % of his aerial duels this time period, a exceptional statistic for somebody as tall, and Onuachu’s 55 % success regardless of being about three centimetres taller (201cm-198cm) factors to the Genk man’s superiority aerially.

Almeria ahead Sadiq is an interesting watch.

The gangly frontman seems awkward on the ball however that hasn’t stopped him from registering 16 targets in Spain’s second division. Evidently not as gigantic because the aforementioned pair (he’s solely 192cm), nonetheless, one headed aim and a 37 % success in aerial tussles put him nearer in profile to Simy than Onuachu.

Be that as it might, the very fact six of his targets have been along with his left foot and the opposite 9 being right-footed implies the previous Roma striker is ambipedal to an extent.

Nonetheless, critics could frown at Sadiq’s tendency to overlook actually presentable possibilities as a flaw in his sport — Onuachu and Simy have missed eight and 7 respectively, whereas the Almeria ahead has didn’t tuck away a staggering 18 — however most likely subsequently assuage by indicating how he retains moving into these positions as an encouraging signal of his goalscoring instincts.

Sadiq Umar

Iheanacho is in contrast to the aforementioned quartet in that he’s presumably the one one unsuited to enjoying as a lone striker however thrives when there’s one other frontman occupying area and defenders within the ultimate third.

It’s that change that has provoked his return to type at Leicester Metropolis and one which’s seen him rating 10 instances in seven appearances for the Foxes.

His choice for the inside-right channel permits him to cut inside to shoot and his two efforts from outdoors the field is degree with the opposite frontmen mixed—Osimhen and Sadiq have scored one every from outdoors the penalty space.

Regardless of the ex-Manchester Metropolis attacker’s return, his 24 % conversion price falls under Onuachu (31 %), Simy (34 %) and solely simply betters Sadiq’s 22 %. Curiously, Osimhen’s 12 % is a lower to final yr’s 15 % and staggeringly adrift of the Genk and Crotone frontmen, though it must be identified the unsustainability of the latter pair’s runs.

Whereas penalties make up eight of the Genk striker’s return and 7 of the Crotone frontman’s tally, each attacker’s returns shouldn’t be diminished in any capability, however extolled for having essentially the most prolific campaigns of their careers.

Unquestionably, Nigeria may very well be the beneficiaries of the present promise and Rohr needs to be excited. He’s acquired an all-rounder and one in every of England’s best second strikers to name upon from the off and an old-school goal man, conventional poacher and slight mix of all in Umar.

Asking all 5 to keep up their runs in entrance of aim could also be a tricky ask, but, the German will welcome having these powerful decisions to make earlier than Afcon and Nigerians will relish going up towards the continent’s best with a lot firepower of their ahead line. 

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