January, 26 2022.
The disappointing ouster of Super Eagles by Tunisia at Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) left the whole country moody and devastated. There are still instances to look into to correct from and look forward to a better outcome next time.
Which brings me to my belief during games in Cameroon, especially the one against Tunisia.
A player that could have made the difference and swing the result in Eagles’ favour. Why Henry Onyekuru?
Born on June 5th 1997 in the Nigerian city of Onitsha, Onyekuru began his football journey at the Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar in 2010.
He remained with the academy until 2015, when he was signed by Aspire partner side KAS Eupen, playing in the Belgian second division at the time.
Onyekuru has pace in abundance, able to take on defenders at ease and create chances with his quick and direct running.
He is also incredibly skillful, something he uses to his advantage. When in tight situations where his pace cannot help him, he uses his quick feet to escape opposing players before exploding into the space.
He is also a confident and composed finisher in the penalty area, never rushing or panicking when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Due to his pace, he is incredibly effective on the counterattack, whilst also having the ability to get his head up, play the right pass, and pick out a fellow teammate.
For the fact that he was an alternate player brought in to replace Dennis Bonaventure, I still believe that Onyekuru still has something to offer if given the chance to play.
The match between Nigeria vs Tunisia. We all saw how Samuel Chukwueze wasn’t in the game as well as several others. But with the introduction of Henry Onyekuru, support from Kelechi Nwakali and Ahmed Musa could have made much difference because at that time what we needed was one who could cross in the ball as well as break down the defence of the Tunisians. But because he was not rated high, he wasn’t introduced.
Onyekuru-less Super Eagles fell to a 1-0 defeat at the Ominisports Roumde Adjia Stadium. Despite controlling large parts of the game, the Super Eagles lacked the ruthless and clinical edge that Onyekuru might have given them if he was fielded.
Moving forward, there is still room for improvement and correcting our mistakes. We should study different patterns technically and not let our opponents always study our games that we can’t change to churn out result.