As Onuachu continues to rattle the back of nets with delightful goals in Belgium, he persists in dividing opinions as to his efficacy in national team colours.
A lot of comparisons are being made between Onuachu and other potential Super Eagles strikers like Sadiq Umar, Taiwo Awoniyi, Cyriel Dessers and Josh Maja (who is having a season from hell with his paltry goals returns in France).
But is it fair?
I don’t think so. Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o were all top class forwards in their time. Yet, each was different in their application of essentially the same centre forward role.
Aiyegbeni had pristine footwork, Drogba had world class positioning while Eto’o was quick and sharp.
Onuachu, on his part, offers contents not always found in Umar’s, Awoniyi’s, Dessers’, or Maja’s toolkits. Each offers something different. It is up to Rohr to harness their potentials and channel them in ways that will strike fear the Super Eagles foes.
Without dropping names, the Super Eagles now have enough quality up front to provide assurance that goals scoring will not be a problem this season in crucial Afcon and world cup qualifiers.
Outside traditional centre forwards, players like Ademola Lookman, Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon can all moonlight as arrowheads. And then there are strikers (like Terem Moffi) outside the usual suspects who can potentially do the business if called upon by their fatherland.
So, the centre forward resources are there in abundance.
Any player called upon just has to step up to the plate and be counted. But the greatest criticism against Paul Onuachu is that he hasn’t stepped up to the plate with the opportunities given to him thus far in Super Eagles colours and his goals across 8 games can only be counted with just 1 finger.
It is a genuine cause for concern more so as his space could potentially be taken by a striker who can hit the ground running and maintain the goals scoring tempo across a number of games (something Onuachu has struggled to conjure)
But,nothing should be taken away from what Onuachu offers ahead of others. Of all Super Eagles strikers in Europe’s elite leagues this season, anecdotal statistics suggest that Onuachu has scored the highest number of headed goals. Preliminary investigations also suggest that Onuachu has scored the highest number of goals inside the 18 yard box and also the highest number of penalties scored of any Nigerian thus far this season.
Thus we have a clinical finisher inside the box (with the right service) with pristine aerial prowess who can be trusted to tuck away penalties.
But Super Eagles fans are complaining that they have not seen anything near these qualities for Onuachu in Nigeria colours.
The truth is, Onuachu has to start taking his chances in Super Eagles colours. With the glut of (quality) options available, he would be understandably overlooked for strikers who can transform club form to compelling outputs for Nigeria.
It is great celebrating Onuachu’s goals scoring exploits for Genk. All that will mean nothing to Super Eagles fans if he continues to struggle in national team colours.
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