In a tournament graced by Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mané and Riyad Mahrez, Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo won the Africa Cup of nations golden boot award. Egypt, Senegal and Algeria were all pre-tournament favourites, with the expectation that one of the trio of Premier League superstars would go home with the golden boot as well as the winner’s medal. Riyad Mahrez and Algeria did go home with the trophy, but our tactical analysis and scout report finds out how a former premier league star displayed the mastery of his art in Africa.
Odion Ighalo is a lethal goal poacher who thrives in the opposition box. Perhaps it is no surprise to many who witnessed his finishing masterclass in Watford’s 2015/2016 Premier League season. After his five-goal salvo at AFCON 2019, the Shanghai Shenhua man announced his retirement from international football alongside John Obi Mikel; but was recognised in the AFCON team of the tournament.
A well taken winner in Nigeria’s opening game followed a brace and an assist against Cameroon in the round of 16; a penalty equaliser in the semi-final against Algeria put him clear of the chasing pack, before consolidating his award with a poacher’s finish in the third-place match.
Odion Ighalo‘s goal frequency stood at a goal every 101 minutes; he clearly relished the team’s dependence on him as he was responsible for 56% of their goals, the most by any player at the tournament. Furthermore, 51% of Nigeria’s shots were in the 18 yard box where Ighalo is most dangerous.
His output could have been much better, however, having missed four big chances throughout the tournament. Two goals clear of his closest challengers on the goalscorers’ charts highlight the goalscoring form he was in; or perhaps how efficient his teammates were at creating chances for him.
Odion Ighalo is the sixth Nigerian after Segun Odegbami, Rashidi Yekini, Julius Aghahowa, Jay-Jay Okocha, and Emmanuel Emenike to win the AFCON golden boot. He also retires with a record of 16 goals in 35 caps, just under a goal every other game.
As this analysis has shown, the good old fox in the box triumphs in goalscoring at AFCON 2019; leaving the inverted wingers of Modern-day football a lesson or two on clinical finishing. The true art of goalscoring, African style.
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