Onyekuru, Nwankwo score, Opta rates Iwobi high

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JOHNNY EDWARD brings you a round-up of the performances of some of Nigeria’s top footballers in the new season

ENGLAND

Iheanacho, Ndidi (Leicester), Frank Onyeka (Brentford)

Ndidi was handed a starting role for Leicester City in their 2-2 draw against Bentford in their 2022/23 season opener at the King Power stadium on Sunday.

The game was Ndidi’s 166th Premier League appearance in seven seasons. Goals from Timothy Castagne and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall gave the Foxes a two-goal lead after 46 minutes, but Ivan Toney halved the deficit two minutes after the hour mark before Josh Dasilva secured a point for the visitors with a well-taken equaliser. Iheanacho and Onyeka were unused substitutes in the encounter.

Alex Iwobi (Everton)

Iwobi starred in defensive midfield along with Abdoulaye Doucoure for Everton, who suffered a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday at Goodison Park.

Despite failing to muster a shot on target, the Nigerian was resilient, recording 37 passes, with 81 per cent pass accuracy. The former Arsenal man also helped defensively with three clearances and two interceptions, with one foul committed.

The 25-year-old was Everton’s best player in possession across the 90 minutes, according to Opta, picking out passes and setting up a number of counter-attacks. Offensively, he completed a single dribble and was never caught offside or dispossessed in the defeat.

Joe Aribo (Southampton)

Welcome to the Premier League!

Aribo endured a horrific Premier League debut for new club Southampton as he was largely anonymous in Southampton’s 4-1 hammering by Tottenham Hotspur in London on Saturday.

The Nigerian, deployed just behind Adam Armstrong in a 5-3-2 formation, failed to sparkle and had little influence on the game, providing no assists. But he forced a save from Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris after being put through on goal in the 73rd minute.

Aribo, who joined the Saints after three years Glasgow Rangers for£10m, won only one tackle, two aerial duels and dribbled past his opponents once with his 76 per cent pass completing rate among the lowest in the game.

The usually exciting midfielder also struggled to hold onto the ball, and was disposed three times.

Taiwo Awoniyi (Notts Forest)

Striker Awoniyi also had a Premier League debut to forget after newcomers Nottingham Forest were swept away 2-0 by Newcastle United in their opening game in the English topflight after 23 years out.

Centre-back Fabian Schar (58th minute) and forward Callum Wilson were on target for the hosts.

New boy Awoniyi, who joined Forest from Bundesliga’s Union Berlin this term, was brought on by manager Steve Cooper for Sam Surridge in the 63rd minute, but the Nigerian found it difficult breaking a Magpies defence that had Kierian Trippier and Matt Targett.

Collins, Ojo (Cardiff), Ejaria (Reading)

Collins made his second start in the Championship, playing the entire duration for Cardiff, who lost 2-1 at Reading on Saturday.  His compatriot and temmate, Seyi Ojo, played 73 minutes in the defeat. A stunning second-half strike from Tom Ince helped Reading come from behind to beat Cardiff City. The visitors dominated the opening exchanges after Callum O’Dowda headed them into an early lead. Shane Long equalised with a penalty after Ince was brought down by Curtis Nelson.

Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City)

Midfielder Etebo was missing from Stoke City’s squad that earned their first three points of the season with goals from Harry Clarke and Jacob Brown giving them a deserved 2-0 Championship victory over Blackpool. Defender Clarke, on loan from Arsenal, nodded Josh Tymon’s far-post cross past Daniel Grimshaw to give the Potters a first-half lead. Stoke missed several chances to double their lead, before Brown grabbed their second at the near post with 15 minutes remaining.

ITALY

Isaac Success (Udinese)

Nigeria international, Success, got off the mark in the new campaign after he scored for Udinese in a 2-1 victory against third division side Feralpisalo in the Round of 64 fixture of the Coppa Italia on Friday. Playing in front of a packed crowd at Dacia Arena, Udinese took the lead in the 12th minute through Gerard Deulofeu, who converted a penalty after Success was fouled in the box. The 26-year-old Super Eagle then doubled their lead in the 64th minute, before Luca Siligardi reduced score for the Serie C side in the 67th minute.

BELGIUM

Dessers, Onuachu (Genk)

Striker Cyriel Dessers failed to add to his tally in the colours of Genk on Saturday in their 4-2 win over Eupen on Saturday. The 27-year-old made five attempts on the Eupen goal, created one chance and made a key pass before he was substituted in the 69th minute.

Dessers, who has been linked with a move to Serie A newcomers Cremonese, remains the top scorer for Genk this season with three goals and an assist in three matches.

His compatriot at Genk, Paul Onuachu, was an unused substitute. The giant Onuachu, Genk’s top scorer last season, is yet to play this season for the club.

The 28-year-old just recovered from an injury which has kept him out of football for a month. He last played for Genk back in May.

GERMANY

Chidera Ejuke (Hertha Berlin)

Ejuke, came on for Kevin-Prince Boateng in the 63rd minute for his league debut as Hertha suffered a 3-1 defeat to city rivals Union Berlin on Saturday. The Nigerian had two shots blocked in the encounter.

FRANCE

Moses Simon (Nantes)

Simon played for 90 minutes for Nantes, who forced Angers to a goalless draw in Sunday’s Ligue 1 encounter.  It was his 89th appearance in the French topflight since he arrived in 2020.

Moffi, Bonke (Lorient)

Super Eagles duo Moffi and Bonke were handed starting roles for Lorient against Stade Rennes. Moffi played all 90 minutes, while Bonke was replaced in the 67th minute for Theo Le Bris, as visiting Lorient claimed a memorable 1-0 win.

SWEDEN

Silas Nwankwo (Mjalby)

Former Nasarawa United striker Nwankwo was on target in the Swedish Allsvenskan as his new club Mjalby were held 1-1 at home by Elfsborg.

The forward, winner of the 2020/21 Eunisell Golden Boot award for the highest goals scorer in the Nigerian topflight, opened score in the fifth minute off midfielder Adam Stahl’s perfect assist, but a Michael Baidoo equaliser for the visitors four minutes into added time broke Mjalby hearts.

Nwankwo came off for Heradi Rashidi with eight minutes.

 TURKEY

Ahmed Musa (Karagumruk)

Super Eagles captain Musa was a 70th minute substitute, coming on for Fabio Borini, as Fatih Karagumruk were beaten 4-0 at home by Alanyaspor.

Henry Onyekuru (Demirspor)

Winger Onyekuru, who is on loan from Greek Giants Olympiakos, scored on his return to the Turkish Super Ligue to help Adana Demirspor to a 3-2 win at Giresunspor on the opening day of the season.

It’s the 25-year-old’s fourth stint in Turkey, having starred for giants Galatasaray on the other occasions. And he made it count, scoring the third goal to earn a hard-fought win for Demirspor.

MLS

Obinna Nwobodo (Cincinnati)

Nigerian midfielder, Obinna Nwobodo, played the entire duration of FC Cincinnati’s stunning 3-1 win over the Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union at the TQL Stadium on Saturday. The game was Nwobodo’s 15th in the Major League Soccer this season. He made 29 tackles with a pass accuracy of 86.3 per cent in the encounter.

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