Top feats among Nigerian soccer stars born at home or abroad began this weekend in England, where a youth team player at Manchester United, Shola Shoretire hit home a hat-trick for The Red Devils development squad on the same evening former Super Eagles’ invitre, Sylvester Emeka Igbonu (Sly) struck once for Dynamo Moscow of Russia.
That set the stage for great things to come for players of Nigerian descent all across the world, as Shoretire and Igbonu’s goals on Friday opened a floodgate of sizzlers and heroics that continued into Saturday and showed early signs of extending into lots more in the offing early on Sunday.
In England, Manchester United youth prodigy and fast-rising Nigerian-born lad, Shoretire netted a hat-trick for The Red Devils' under-18 squad in an English Premier League 2 victory over Blackburn Rovers on Friday, during a game that saw both sides level at the break.
Shoretire, who is expected to sign his first professional contract this month, after beginning the season as a first-year scholar, netted his first-ever hat-trick in a competitive match for United’s youth teams at Leigh Sports Village just three days after turning 17, as he and Hannibal Mejbri replied for the home team, after Samuel Barnes and McBride scored for Blackburn.
Blackburn were 4-2 up ten minutes into the second half from McBride, who netted his second of the night from the spot, and Joe Nolan's effort, but United were rewarded for their untiring fight back when Shoretire headed home into the bottom right corner in the 73rd minute.
A minute later, parity was restored through a Joe Hugil goal before Shoretire tapped home for his hat-trick with twelve minutes left on the clock, then provided the assist for Mejbri, who fired into the top corner in the 20th minute.
Also in England on Friday, Viv Solomon-Otabor stepped up his recovery with a runaround in the under-23 squad of Wigan Athletic against Coventry City, and the Birmingham City product was on for the entirety of the first half at Christopher Park.
Solomon-Otabor held his own pretty well during the Professional Development League fixture and came through the game unscathed, even as Jonny Ngandu gave Coventry the lead in the 47th minute, but The Latics leveled within three minutes.
That goal came from substitute Sean McGurk, who stepped off the bench at half-time in place of Solomon-Otabor, who has not figured for Wigan's first team since suffering an ankle injury in a league game with Plymouth Argyle on October 24.
Prior to his spell on the sidelines, the 25-year-old Solomon-Otabor, who attracted interest from Charlton Athletic and Doncaster Rovers before extending his stay at DW Stadium on transfer deadline day, was having a good season, having started Wigan's first eight games and provided two assists.
In Russia, Igbonu’s goal came in an inter-club friendly match, as his Moscow-based side stepped up preparations for the resumption of this season and ‘Tata’ tucked away a penalty to set Dynamo on the road to victory.
The former Super Eagles’ attacker during the reign of Sunday Ogorchukwu Oliseh as head coach, therefore, opened the rain of goals from Nigeria’s array of international players across Europe when he struck one for his Russian Premier League club in a 2-0 victory over Kairat Almaty..
The 30-year-old Igbonu, who grew up in Agege area of Lagos and got his breakthrough in Europe with a deal from FC Ebedie of Sagamu to FC Midtjylland of Denmark, made a world of difference on Friday, as hit home his first goal in 11 appearances for Dynamo.
He will now aim for better impact in the league, as Dynamo are sixth on the table with 30 points from 19 matches, and ‘Tata’ is already beaming with enthusiasm ahead of the second half of the season, which will begin at the end of this month.
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