AFCON Qualifier: How Victor Osimhen, Lookman, Awoniyi, Chukwueze Ran 6-nil Riot over São Tomé and Príncipe

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Victor Osimhen’s hat trick, combined with goals from Ademola Lookman, Taiwo Awoniyi, and Samuel Chukwueze, powered Nigeria to a resounding 6-0 victory against São Tomé and Príncipe in the final game of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier, at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Sunday.

The Super Eagles were already assured of their place at the 2023 AFCON in Ivory Coast, having secured 12 points, including a nail-biting 3-2 victory over Sierra Leone in June. Despite their secured spot, the three-time African champions approached the game with goal-hungry determination, seeking to put on a formidable performance against the Selecao.

This match bore striking similarities to last year’s reverse fixture, where the Super Eagles cruised to an astonishing 10-0 triumph at the Stade Adrar. Although they fell just short of replicating that historic victory, Nigeria demonstrated clinical precision in front of goal by converting six of the chances they created.

The Super Eagles fielded a formidable lineup, with notable debuts for Jordan Torunarigha and Gift Orban. Francis Uzoho made a triumphant return to the goalpost, while Semi Ajayi, Ola Aina, Calvin Bassey, and Onyemaechi Bruno formed a solid defensive line. The midfield featured Frank Onyeka and Wilfred Ndidi, while Kelechi Iheanacho and Lookman provided width on the wings. In-form duo Osimhen and Awoniyi led the attack.

Nigeria wasted no time making an impact, with Napoli’s Osimhen opening the scoring just 13 minutes into the game. Atalanta forward Lookman doubled the tally 27 minutes into the encounter, putting the Super Eagles firmly in control.

Despite holding a two-goal advantage, Nigeria maintained their dominance throughout the match. Uzoho had little to contend with in goal, thanks to the Eagles’ resolute defense. The first half concluded with a comfortable lead.

The second half saw Nottingham Forest forward Awoniyi add to the tally, scoring the third goal of the game just six minutes into the restart. Osimhen then struck twice in quick succession, completing his hat trick and extending Nigeria’s lead to 5-0. The icing on the cake came in the 84th minute when Chukwueze unleashed a spectacular strike, courtesy of an assist from Victor Boniface, to seal the emphatic 6-0 victory.

Osimhen’s remarkable hat trick not only secured a convincing win but also elevated him to the position of Nigeria’s fourth all-time leading goal scorer with 20 goals. Prior to this game, Osimhen was tied for the sixth spot alongside Sunday Oyarekhua and Samson Siasia, each with 17 goals, behind Obafemi Martins (18) and Ikechukwu Uche (19). His three-goal performance against São Tomé and Príncipe means he now has his sights set on breaking the Super Eagles’ all-time highest goalscorer record.

The illustrious record, currently held by the late Rashidi Yekini since the 1990s, stands at 37 goals in 67 appearances for Nigeria. Osimhen, with his 20 goals, finds himself just 20 goals away from equalling this national record. To achieve this monumental feat, he must first surpass Segun Odegbami, who scored 23 goals, and Yakubu Aiyegbeni, with 21 goals, to secure his place in Nigerian football history. Osimhen’s ambition and remarkable performances continue to fuel hopes of witnessing history being rewritten on the football pitch.

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