The Super Eagles forward is set to complete a move to Nottingham and will become the Reds’ first proof of seriousness on their Premier League return
For seven years, Taiwo Awoniyi was finding his foot in European football. His move to Liverpool had come as a stroke of the most unimaginable but such was his hard work that the Reds kept tabs with his progress.
He met his heroes in England, wined and dined with them and was offered an opportunity to train with some of the best players in the world. Those moments would have formed a halo for the young Awoniyi at the time – a circle of different lights, and one he would have been desirous of joining if he had his way.
Loan moves took him everywhere, from the Netherlands to Belgium and Germany as he tried to get a break and represent the Nigerian national team. The dream was to represent Liverpool, at the highest level of European football and it came so close yet far away.
Awoniyi would, this time, by the strength of his hard work settle for the lesser Reds, hoping to take the Premier League by storm as they ended their 23-year wait to play in the top flight.
Going by what the attacker has shown at Union Berlin, there’s a clear promise there. When he’s supported and is settled, he can be a real handful. His strengths are as clear as his weaknesses and that eases Steve Cooper’s decision to turn him to an even better spectacle.
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The Premier League takes no prisoners but attackers with similar profiles as Awoniyi’s have done the spectacular in the league until they can’t dig beyond deep. In Odion Ighalo, there’s an immediate example of what’s possible for an attacker without the glaring eyes.
This first wave is expected of the attacker and it will be an advantage if he pulls it.
In terms of style, there’s no much difference between the Premier League and the Bundelisga but the pressure-intensive style of the English top flight asks begging questions on most days. It has seen forwards from the German league struggle to get going in the Premier League but there has hardly been any as willing to hustle in the box as Awoniyi.
He has shown he can adapt to new systems as long as there’s a cushion behind him to pick the pieces of his heavy work. The quality Liverpool found in him as a raw youngster are still very evident in his game. Not the finest ball player from the technical point of view but his devastation in the box calls for respect.
Improved quality may be an advantage
Like Cyriel Dessers, his Super Eagles teammate rightly pointed out last weekend, Awoniyi’s quality can be judged by the quality of his runs more than the chances he missed.
He was the third player with the highest number of missed chances in the Bundesliga last season according to Whoscored. The first two on the list – Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski and RB Leipzig’s Andre Silva are elite Bundesliga strikers and a glaring example that the Nigerian is in good company. The obvious reason they are there is because they get into good positions and if Awoniyi keeps this an art, he will get enough opportunities and with improved goalscoring, he will only get better. He is young and still improving and Nottingham Forest is just a step on the way to something bigger, in his head.
The aim is to play for the biggest teams in Europe, and that may only happen if he proves the point he desires.
The Reds or The Iron Ones: Something about starting small
In terms of profile, Nottingham Forest are somewhat similar in status and methods to Union Berlin, from a Premier League point of view and if the forward gets anything near the support he got at the German capital, he may be aiming even higher next season.
He, however has many doubts to quash, especially of how he will manage to make his weaknesses less visible and make his strengths count.
With the Reds owner, Evangelos Marinakis putting it all into the project, Awoniyi may just become a part of a beautiful, big presence of small boys in the league. That, however won’t come on a platter of gold, as history has shown. The cities are not usually accommodating for the newbies.
Should Nottingham Forest struggle to sail, as many already expect, the Nigerian forward must swim and use every opportunity he gets to charge for the future.
Team Nigeria @ Commonwealth Games will get presidential reception – Minister
Members of the historic Team Nigeria to the 2022 Commonwealth Games will receive a presidential reception, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has said.
Team Nigeria achieved its best performance ever at the Commonwealth Games at the 2022 edition in Birmingham, winning 12 gold, nine silver and 14 bronze medals.
Speaking with Team Nigeria athletes on Monday, Dare praised them for bringing the country into global focus for positive reasons.
A statement by the minister’s media office quoted him as saying, “I followed every moment of your competition. I was in Birmingham from the beginning till I had to leave for other official engagements. So many Nigerians followed you too. We are all so proud of what you achieved for Nigeria and yourselves.
“Mr President is also very proud of you and has approved that a presidential reception be held to honour you for the historic feat at Birmingham 2022.
“We will immediately start to plan for the reception and once we have tightened things up, we will announce the date, invite you over from your different bases and you will have that privilege of meeting Mr President.
“Nigeria will appreciate you for the great acts of sacrifice, patriotism and determination to excel that you all have demonstrated here whether you have a medal around your neck or not.”
Meanwhile, Group Chief Executive of Oando Plc, Wale Tinubu, has announced that his company will give cash rewards to all Team Nigeria medallists at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Tinubu said his company would match whatever cash reward was already in place for the athletes by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
This implies that gold medal winners will get another $5,000, Silver medal winners ($3,000) and Bronze medal winners, ($2,000) from him.
Golden Sunday for Nigeria as Brume takes country CWG gold medals to 12
Nigeria ended its participation at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on Sunday hauling a number of gold medals, with Long Jump sensational Ese Brume leaping 7m to hit gold. This took the country’s gold medals to 12 at the tournament.
The victory dance started in the morning at the Alexander Stadium, where the quartet of Tobi Amusan, Favour Ofili, Rose Chukwuma and Grace Nwokocha won the 4x100m women’s relay race.
The quartet also set a new African record of 42.10s to win the country’s 11th gold medal in what has turned out to become Nigeria’s best outing at the Commonwealth Games.
The 4x100m women team included Tobi Amusan, Favour Ofili, Rose Chukwuma and anchor, Grace Nwokocha.
Earlier, the quartet of Udodi Onwuzurike, Favour Ashe, Alaba Akintola and Raymond Ekevwo won the bronze medal in the men’s 4x100m event won by the English team. The Nigerian men finished in a time of 38.81s to make it to the podium.
Ofili on Saturday became the third Nigerian woman after Mary Onyali (1994) and Blessing Okagbare (2014) to win a medal in the 200m at the Commonwealth Games.
The 19-year-old ran 22.51 seconds to place second behind Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah (22.02s Games record), the Tokyo Olympics double sprint champion.
Namibia’s Tokyo Olympics 200m silver medalist, Christine Mboma, finished third in 22.80 seconds.
Ofili’s silver medal win is the second such medal Nigeria has won in the event after Mary Onyali, who ran 22.35 seconds to place second behind Australia’s Cathy Freeman in 1994.
Nigeria’s record in the event now reads one gold after Blessing Okagbare’s 22.25 seconds blistering run eight years ago in Glasgow, Scotland and two silver medals.
Interestingly, the three Nigerians that qualified to run in the final of the half-lap event have ended on the podium.
In the last field event of the day, Ese Brume made 7.00 metres in the long jump to break her Commonwealth Games record and added another gold medal to Nigeria’s kitty.
Earlier, Elizabeth Oshoba failed in her attempt to win a gold medal in the women’s featherweight boxing final, losing 5-0 to Northern Ireland’s Michaela Walsh. She got a silver medal for her efforts.
The women’s 4×400 metres relay team were not luckier as they could only finish seventh in the race won by England. Canada took the silver, while the bronze medal went to Jamaica.
With 12 gold medals in the kitty, Nigeria made it her best-ever show at the Commonwealth Games.
Man United stunned 1-2 by Brighton in 2022/23 EPL first match
Manchester United started the 2022/23 English Premier League on a disappointing note under a new manager, Erik ten Haag, losing 1-2 to Brighton at home on Sunday afternoon.
Brighton had never won at Old Trafford. But they made history when Pascal Groß got his first of the day to put the visitors ahead in the 30th minute, according gto Vanguard.
Despite being inferior in post-match statistics, the Seagulls made life difficult for United for the entire duration of the game.
Football365 also reports that Erik ten Hag was brought to the club in the summer to begin a rebuild on the back of a slump that has seen them go five years without winning a trophy and there is not going to be a quick fix.
Starting with Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, United were thoroughly outplayed in the first half as two Pascal Gross goals in the space of nine minutes gave the Seagulls a deserved lead.
Ten Hag’s men did improve after the break once Ronaldo had come on, but only found the back of the net through an Alexis Mac Allister own goal and were unable to get a leveller.
It was a worthy three points for Brighton, who have high expectations this season despite losing key players in the summer, and they enjoyed a first-ever win at Old Trafford.
It was 93 days since the nadir of Ralf Rangnick’s reign saw United hammered 4-0 at the Amex Stadium at the end of last season, but not much has changed on the pitch yet from that afternoon.
Despite their early arrival at the ground, United were caught cold in a hugely disappointing opening 45 minutes and were nearly behind in the opening 15 seconds.
Leandro Trossard pressed Diogo Dalot on the edge of the penalty area, stole possession but could only fire into the side-netting.
Having averted early disaster, it looked like United were going to take control as they forged a great chance to score in the eighth minute.
Scott McTominay got in down the right and his blocked shot fell perfectly for Bruno Fernandes, but the Portuguese blazed his effort well over.
But from then Brighton asserted themselves and they deservedly took the lead on the half-hour.
McTominay was robbed of possession by Moises Caicedo, who found Danny Welbeck’s clever run between the two centre-halves, and the ex-United striker picked out Gross at the far post, with the midfielder having an easy tap-in.
Things got worse for United nine minutes later as Brighton doubled their lead after they sliced through the Red Devils in just four passes.
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