Too early or too enthusiastic, we compare Yekini and Osimhen

Too early or too enthusiastic, we compare Yekini and Osimhen

One stood at 1.9m, the other stands at 1.86m-almost the same height, and actually the most basic comparison component between the late Rashidi Yekini, the original ‘goals father’ and Victor Osimhen, who is carving a crevice through the history books.

Where Yekini was introverted and blossomed only in his pitch persona; Osimhen, for all the wrong and right reasons, is effusive, and sometimes self-effacing. Passion and history connect both as No.9s of the Super Eagles, past and present.

Yekini remains the alpha in Super Eagles’ No.9s-the man who scored the country’s first-ever goal at the FIFA World Cup and celebrated it in an enduringly iconic way. The G. O. A.T – the greatest of all-time Nigerian strikers.

But not so quickly, with the full stop, some will argue. This is because Osimhen has shown he also seeks a place in Super Eagles’ history with his goal per game ratio.

Yekini leads the all-time goal-scoring chart with 37 goals in 57 games-an average of about 0.65 goals per game while Osimhen’s record is 15 goals in 23 appearances for an average of about 0.65 goals per game.

The similarities don’t end there.

Yekini was a no-frills striker, always looking to gallop away from his marker and blaze a shot goalwards.

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Osimhen is the same but luckier because his discovery came quicker-with the U-17s where he created a single tournament record of 10 goals in 2015. He also moved to Europe at a young age, where Yekini played till his mid-20s in the Nigeria league.

Osimhen has been working with some of the better tacticians in Europe and playing with some great players-great education that stands him in good nick to become the best he can be.

And he is showing marked improvement in his game-both tactically and physically, while smoothening out the rough edges.

With the same goals per game ratio and having more games to play per year for the national team, there is every possibility-barring unforeseen circumstances like long-term injury, that Osimhen will be the striker to break Yekini’s record of goals scored for the Super Eagles.

An article published by PREMIUM TIMES in 2021 details Osimhen’s improvement and what he still has to do to become one of the leading forwards in the world.

Yekini’s former Eagles teammate, Sunday Oliseh, explained the late No.9’s qualities as pace, possessing a superb shot, high vertical leap, and calmness in front of goal.

Osimhen is pacy with a ferocious shot, especially with his right foot. He displays a tremendous jump, and he is adding that killer calmness in front of the goal as showcased by his fourth strike against Sao Tome and Principe, which may not have been possible 12 months ago.

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The slight tweaks that will make Osimhen unplayable

Osimhen scares defenders. While the 23-year-old is still raw, his pace, determination, and never-give-up spirit mean central defenders are always looking to devise new ways to counteract these characteristics.

But he fails himself more times than desperate defenders. His momentum is pure and instantaneous, but his eagerness and apparent desperation to score sometimes count against him.

Thus, he is ruled offside many more times than is necessary. Often, he also attempts launching a rocket when all he needs is a toe poke.

One advantage he already has on Yekini is his heading ability. Starting out, both players were poor at using their heads, preferring their feet, but the modern No.9 must be a complete package.

Compared to the likes of Erling Haaland or Darwin Nunez, Osimhen already shows a greater percentage of headed goals.

Osimhen’s numbers would be better if he was his team’s penalty taker, although the table above shows a definite weakness with his left foot. His numbers are commendable because of the acknowledged fact that the Serie A is a more defensive-inclined league than the Bundesliga and the Portuguese Primera.

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In all this optimism, we need to look back a bit and say we have had some false dawns on potent strikers in the past.

There were some forwards we thought would obliterate Yekini’s record. Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Victor Aghahowa, and even the retired or not-retired Odion Ighalo.

All fell short

Osimhen has time on his side, but the most important asset to break Yekini’s record will be to stay healthy, and play in a team that works for him to score.

If he gets these he will create his own history.

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