The English leagues went full swing this weekend with Nigeria fans passionately following the progress of all Nigerian players in the various tiers of the leagues.
So, how did our heroes fares? I take a look at 6 of these below:
1) Taiwo Awoniyi: I think of players like Alexander Mitrovic of Fulham and our own Seyi Olofijana.
Mitrovic is currently having an illustrious career at Fulham since 2018 despite the club coming in and out of the Premier league at that time (3 seasons in the Champions and 3 seasons in the Premier League).
Despite these movements, Mitrovic’s career has been stable, steady and productive and he is seen as dangerous goals scorer in English football (yesterday the Serbian International drew a foul and scored the resultant penalty against powerhouse Liverpool in their latest season back in the Premier League).
Our own Seyi Olofijana had a stellar and steady career at Wolves, Stoke City Hull City between 2004 and 2013 as he moved graciously between the Premier League and the Championship.
He acquitted himself everywhere he went and is still held in high esteem by the fans of those clubs.
Neither Mitrovic nor Olofijana regretted their career moves that saw them grace England’s top two leagues. They are legends. A decent striker like Sola Ameobi – who enjoyed a steady, fruitful and long career with Newcastle across the Premier League and Championship – comes to mind.
There is nothing to suggest that Taiwo Awoniyi will not be huge hit in England – be it in the English Premier League or temporary spells in the Championship.
Yesterday he was brought up against a pumped up Newcastle United but he and his teammates could not contain the rampant Magpies.
It is going to be a long season so Awoniyi will definitely have his time to shine but yesterday wasn’t not the day for him and his team mates.
2) Joe Aribo: he was initially deployed as a support striker and then later as lone centre forward.
With the frenetic pace of the Premier League and limited service midfield, Aribo was isolated. He still showed glimpses of what he brings by ghosting into the penalty box and drawing a save from the goalkeeper.
In fairness, it does take time for some players to settle into life in a new league.
Aribo will relish the challenge ahead as he carves out a niche for himself as a quality centre forward.
My question is: if he continues to be used as a centre forward in Southampton, what will happen to his midfield role in the Super Eagles?
Even yesterday, Aribo’s positioning provided the perception that he could be a huge star for Southampton this season, regardless of where the club ends.
3) Alex Iwobi: although Everton lost to Chelsea, Iwobi put in a strong shift in midfield.
His signature neat first touches and one time passes were again in full view. He also seems to be enjoying his football again.
Fans and foes alike will be looking to Iwobi to see how he will build on the strong way he ended last season.
4) Peter Etebo: he was unsurprisingly missing in Stoke’s match day squad.
Just like Mitrovic, Ameobi and Olofijana, Etebo was hoping to have a steady career in English football across Premiership and Championship but it sadly hasn’t really worked out.
There was no problem signing for Stoke City in 2018, the question was how his career would pan out. Funnily, Etebo is still held in high esteem by Stoke fans for his exemplary work ethics.
He also enjoyed a purple patch under sacked coach Nathan Jones whose diamond shape 4-4-2 formation brought out the best in Etebo (he actually scored his only 2 goals for Stoke under Nathan Jones’ diamond 4-4-2 formation)
So, Etebo’s move to Stoke in itself wasn’t a bad move. But after Jones was sacked, current manager Michael O’Neil took a disliking to Etebo hence his career at the club derailed.
Loan deals to Getafe, Galastasaray and Watford only goes to show that Michael O’Neil and Etebo have no intentions of working with each other.
This reversal of fortune could have happened to any player at any club. What has to be remembered is that, under affable coaches, Peter Etebo was having a decent, steady career in English football.
5) Joshua Oluwayemi: the 21 year old goal-minder is still waiting for his breakthrough as league One Portsmouth.
He was on the bench throughout against Lincoln City. It has to be recalled that Maduka Okoye was not listed for Watford in the Championship curtain raiser against Sheffield on Monday.
Another Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Jinadu is currently listed as clubless by Transfermk – not the best of starts for Nigerian goalkeepers in England.
6) However, Nigeria eligible Arthur Okonkwo bucked that trend as Arsenal loanee kept a clean sheet in Crew Alexander’s 3:0 League Two win against Harrogate.
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