Beyond the goal… Why I’m happy for Onuachu
By Kayode Ogundare @kaybaba99
Okay, this is to be a wrap for the Benin Republic game
And a countdown to Tuesday’s dead-rubber against Lesotho.
I like the fact that we defeated the Squirrels of Benin 1-0 in Porto Novo
But I liked better the fact that the goal came from Paul Onuachu
In the build-up to the game, Onuachu was not supposed to be in the team
Even though he’s Nigeria’s highest goalscorer in Europe,
He was considered just good enough for a standby slot.
But God spoke for him, another player wasn’t available and Paul was drafted in.
He knew he had a point to prove, came on as a sub and got the goal at the death.
To be fair, I won’t blame Gernot Rohr for not starting him though I think putting him on the standby list was a tad disrespectful
But everything came together for him and he got the only goal of the game, he that was of low regard!
Now, he’s going to give coach Rohr a very sweet headache
Because he’s made himself “undroppable” from the main team.
Now, the team will walk the hardway and play to his strength.
He’s physically imposing, tends to be sluggish because of his height but he’s getting the job done for his Belgian club.
For those who asked if he was good enough to play and score for the Eagles,
That goal was the perfect response.
I’m reminded of two similar scenarios in the past.
A young Daniel Amokachi had missed the 1992 AFCON even though he made his debut at Algiers ’90 as a home-based player.
By the time the qualifiers for the 1994 edition came around late 1992, he was already established in Europe with Club Brugge of Belgium.
He even had the distinction of being the first ever player to score a UEFA Champions League goal that season.
Nigeria’s first game was an away draw in Khartoum against Sudan
So the clamour for his recall to the Super Eagles was loud.
Coach Clemens Westerhof finally bowed to pressure and invited him for the next game against Uganda in Lagos.
Amokachi came, started and got the first goal in a 2-0 win. Samson Siasia got the second.
Since then and until he retired eight years later, Amokachi became a super regular and even captained the Super Eagles.
He came, got the chance and proved a point!
Few months later, the qualifiers for the 1994 World Cup began in late 1992 and Nigeria’s first game was against South Africa in Lagos.
Nigeria had top quality in the striking position with gangling Rashidi Yekini at the height of his scoring prowess.
Siasia was good; a very young Victor Ikpeba was scoring fantastic goals for Liege in Belgium and Amokachi had just won the Ebony Award for consistent good performance.
Back home, Gabriel Okolosi (Julius Berger), recently-deceased Barnabas Imenger (El-kanemi); Chukwu Ndukwe (Udoji United) and Akin Akinsehinde (Kano Pillars) were all firing well.
Yet, there was a certain Richard Owubokiri who had scored more than 30 goals for his Portuguese team Boavista.
Thus, naturally, there was an uproar that he should be recalled to the Super Eagles.
So, on October 10, 1992 Westerhof lined up a fearsome attack of Owubokiri, Yekini and Siasia against the South Africans.
Game ended 4-0 with Owubokiri getting the first goal, Yekini scored twice and Siasia scored one of the most beautiful goals I ever saw.
Though Owubokiri didn’t play much for Nigeria after that game (Yekini was virtually irreplaceable and Ricky was not one to be kept on the bench) but he made his mark when he was called upon.
Let’s pray this will be the beginning of many great goals for Paul Onuachu, hopefully beginning with Lesotho on Tuesday.