African stars abroad: Osimhen firing again

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As is the case every week, African footballers were making significant contributions across Europe in the top leagues. This is’s collection of the best of the best:

VICTOR OSIMHEN (NAPOLI & NIGERIA): It has been a traumatic last weeks for the Super Eagles’ marksman, starting with a spat with his coach after he was substituted and escalating into confrontation between his agent and the club, the threat of legal action and a possible January transfer. But Osimhem has sent a clear message about his focus, scoring with a towering header after coming off the bench in the 4-0 win over Lecce but then not celebrating. Napoli coach Rudi Garcia said he did not start Osimhen on Saturday because of rotational reasons but he is sure to play in the Champions League against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

ABDESSAMAD EZZALZOULI (REAL BETIS & MOROCCO): Newly arrived at Betis from Barcelona, the 21-year-old Moroccan prodigy netted the third and final goal in a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Valencia on Saturday. He helped to win possession in midfield, then bulleted like an Olympic sprinter up the pitch in support of William Carvalho before the ball was played into his path. Ezzalzouli let go with a thunderbolt that rifled into the back of the net. It helped Betis up to seventh in the LaLiga standings.

UMAR SADIQ (REAL SOCIEDAD & NIGERIA): Real Sociedad were able to go above Athletic Bilbao into fifth spot in LaLiga with a 3-0 victory on Saturday in which the Nigerian centre forward helped set up the second goal. He got a touch onto a square ball that fell for his Japanese teammate Takefusa Kubo to score. The strength in attack of the 26-year-old from Kaduna will be needed on Tuesday when Sociedad travel to Salzburg in the Champions League for a key clash in Group D.

OUSSAMA EL HAZZOUZI (BOLOGNA & MOROCCO): The Dutch-born midfielder moved to Serie A at the start of the season and is still finding his feet in the Italian league but pressing for a berth in the starting line-up after coming on in the 3-0 win over struggling Empoli on Sunday, setting up the last of Riccardo Orsolini’s hattrick. El Hazzouzi laid the ball across from right for the goal. The under-23 international will be hoping his contribution also catches the eye of Morocco coach Walid Regragui.

NAYEF AGUERD (WEST HAM UNITED & MOROCCO): After giving away a penalty in the 3-1 loss to Liverpool last week, Aguerd will be delighted with his contribution as the Hammers kept a clean sheet at the back and won 2-0 at home to Sheffield United in David Moyes’ 900th league game as a manager. Aguerd has missed, because of suspension, only one of West Ham’s seven Premier League games this season, having got over all his injury woes of the last 12 months.

DJENE DAKONAM (GETAFE & TOGO): The 31-year-old defender was key again as Getafe kept a clean sheet at home against Villareal in a goalless stalemate in their LaLiga clash. This is Dakonam’s seventh season at the club, where he is now an icon, having joined from St Truiden in Belgium in 2017.

Source: Mzansi Football

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