Is Europa League hero Iheanacho improving?
Super Eagles Support Striker Kelechi Iheanacho continues to show that he is one not to be overlooked after his all-round scintillating centre forward play in the Europa league produced 1 goal and 2 assists last night.
But it could all have been so different had the duo of Jamie Vardy and Islam Slimani been available; the former dropping out due to injury and the latter (having returned from a loan spell to Monaco) not registered for the Europa league.
Whilst I know I might be wrong, I seem to get the sense that Coach Brendan Rodgers will always harbour doubts about Kelechi’s centre forward credentials regardless of how many goals and assists produced by the 2013 Under 17 World Cup winner.
All the time Jamie Vardy played as Leicester’s centre forward this season, he has played near enough 90 minutes whereas Iheanacho is sure to be substituted when he plays in the absence on Vardy.
This is by no means a criticism of the former Liverpool Gaffer; rather it is a mere observation that represents to me the incredible need for Iheanacho to always prove his worth and my goodness, did he do just that last night against Zorya fc (knowing fully well that he will be substituted anyway).
Faced with near hopeless odds and an inescapable fading goal scoring opportunity as he was being drowned out by Zorya’s defenders deep in the 18 yard box, Iheanacho kept hope alive with his hold up play long enough to feed Maddison who made no mistake to put Leicester ahead just 29 minutes.
Having led the line admirably all night with sublime passes and lovely link-up plays, the Nigerian International’s beautiful back heel to release Barnes in 45 minutes was only eclipsed by how gloriously Barnes sliced through and chipped Zorya’s hapless goalkeeper to make it 2:0 to Leicester.
Not content with just being a provider, Iheanacho was alive to pounce on a sloppy back pass from Zorya’s Ivanisenya before turning centre defender L. Cvek inside out to smash the back of the net with an emphatic effort that drew applause from Coach Brendan Rodgers (who would later substitute Iheanacho in 75 minutes all the same).
Coach Rodgers will point to the need to give as many players as possible the chance to play as reasons for making substitutions. In fairness, it is difficult to argue against that however, on evidence of how well Iheanacho has been playing since last season, it is imperative he plays regularly to help in continually enhancing his confidence and improving his all-round game.
There was yet another opportunity for Iheanacho to add to his goal tally last night but his neat slice in 70 minutes off Castagne’s cunning cross only sliced the side netting agonisingly as he and his Leicester team mates had to settle for a convincing 3:0 win.
Next stop for Leicester is a difficult away trip to an ever-improving Arsenal on Sunday where the ever-improving Iheanacho will have to contend with Algeria’s Islam Slimani for a place as the centre forward.
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