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Paul Onuachu: Route 1 Football is perhaps his route to Super Eagles breakthrough

I once read an article written by Brendan Hodrien on in which he encouraged Jurgen Klopp to consider signing Onuachu as a viable ‘Option B’ for Liverpool. I totally agree with Brendan’s position for the Super Eagles. To be honest, I don’t think Onuachu’s style of play suits the Super Eagles ‘Plan A’ even before Rohr. The team has in the past 20 years (for the most parts) paraded strikers like Obafemi Martins, Ike Uche, Aghaowa, Yakubu, Emenike and now Osimhen. One common thread unites them: pace. Despite his goals scoring output towards the tail end of his Super Eagles career, many fans never warmed up to Ighalo because he didn’t fit the mould (in their eyes). The thoughts of him coming out of retirement to challenge Osimhen horrified them still. But yes: I too belong to the body of Nigeria fans who want pacy, fluid, flamboyant, nifty and marauding centre forwards. That is what I am used to; these sort of strikers almost seamlessly slot into the pattern of the Super Eagles under any coach.

But, is there anything wrong in having a ‘Plan B’? Tall and slow Peter Crouch offered Liverpool an explosive ‘Plan B’; Slow Headmaster Olivier Giroud offers France a heady Plan B. World class coaches worth any grain of salt would have a plan b, c and d. That is dynamism. That is flexibility and that is adaptability. Onuachu has shown me that if a team is set up to take advantage of his strengths, he can deliver. I remember Euro 2000. Often when Michael Owen (a speedy striker) was well caged, he was removed for a more ‘conventional’ or ‘practical’ approach. Route 1 football – in which Onuachu has the tendency to thrive – is unattractive. but it is still known to gets goals when all else fails. I am not saying that the Super Eagles should throw away its identity built over many years for just 1 player. I am saying that it is possible for coaches to have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C and then populate their 23 man squad to implement strategies that make best use of each player’s attributes. Jo Bonfrere rotated his squad constantly in the 2000 Afcon to take advantage of the weaknesses of each opposition and the (unique) strengths of each of his players. Hence his starting 11 was never predictable. Onuachu can score 200 goals in 10 games in the English Premier League. His style of play however would still make him (in all probability) to be second choice to the likes of Osimhen or any other pacy striker even if they are playing in Scotland. But, if the national team management set up is neither too rigid nor too predictable, there should be times when Onuachu can be called upon to cause much harm to Super Eagles opponents. You can’t populate your toolkit with instruments of a similar nature and expect to tackle a wider myriad of tasks.

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