By: Obiweluozo Martins
In the wake of an FA cup outing between Man-City and relegation bound Aston Villa, Kelechi Iheanacho took center stage to register his name on the heart of the watching world.
In the absence of star players like David Silva, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero to name but a few, Kelechi Iheanacho stole the show and inspired his Manchester City teammate to victory with a first time hat-trick alongside Fernandinho, Fernando, Bacary Sagna and Raheem sterling who scored the fourth goal to add more gloss to the score line compounding the woes of Aston villa towards a poor end to the season.
Iheanacho’s first goals came just in the 4th minute with the 2nd and third at 20th and 74th minute and provided a telling assist for strike partner Raheem Sterling.
Even with the absence of the aforementioned big stars the young Nigerian prodigy wasted no time in taking Manchester City to the next round of the FA Cup as it was evidence from his hat-trick. We take a look at the possible lessons from Kelechi Iheanacho’s hat-trick as regards to a five star performance for the Noisy Neighbours, Manchester City.
IHEANACHO’S INSTINCTIVE POSITIONING
|Striker Iheanacho (second left) slides in to open the scoring for Manchester City in their FA Cup clash against Aston Villa in Birmingham
The 19 year old forward demonstrated great awareness and positioning which is as a result of his instinctive ability, to be at the right place at the right time, wreaking havoc for the opposing team (Aston Villa) as he slotted the rebound from inside the six-yard box from a resulting corner kick. It was the same instinct that helped him to score his first Premier League goal for City against Crystal Palace (a record breaking goal been 18 and the youngest to score for City a Premier League goal).
Such goal underlined his instinctive positioning as it gave City the three point at Palace and a precious lead against Aston Villa. You could recall the instinctive goal scoring performance at the U-17 World Cup final when he was well placed to pounce on a shot to make it 2-0 in Nigeria favour against Mexico in the final.
The talented forward was once again able to display such instinctive quality with the first goal as Aston Villa was dumped out of the FA cup by one man Kelechi Iheanacho. His positioning in the box and arrival time is perfect as he reads the game from his personal instinct. It was once again evident as he did the same against Mexico in the opener connecting well from strike partner Isaac Success to open the account for the Golden Eaglets in UAE in 2013 against Mexico. The young lad instinct will be a handful for opposing defenders who will be task to keep an eye on him in crucial games especially in set-piece.
ABILITY TO HANDLE RESPONSIBILITY
|Manchester City double their lead against Premier League strugglers Aston Villa thanks to Iheanacho’s penalty in the first half on Saturday
The 19 year old Nigeria at such a youthful age and at a massive club at Manchester City’s pedigree demonstrated character and guts in taking responsibility into his hands not looking at the big boys and stepping up to take a penalty kick even when the game is still very much open. Such sort of confidence shows that the young lad is not afraid to take responsibility.
As from his name “Iheanacho” which means “what we are looking for” show he came to take responsibility. On his first city debut in pre-season in the 4-1 defeat of MLS side Sporting Kansas City a foul was committed against a City player(Scott Sinclair) and then only 17 he rushed and picked up the ball to take the penalty only for Kolarov to override him by taking the penalty as a superior guy in the City hierarchy. It was also pointed out by various section as Iheanacho was the only City player to score in 4-1 penalty defeat of Man-City as he showed character and precision as he was clearly unperturbed from 12 yards.
Such quality is that of a personality who is capability of handling responsibility with aplomb on the field of play and Iheanacho is not a let down to the regard as he has proven that yet again by taking and swiftly converting convincingly from 12 yards against Villa.
COMPOSURE AND MATURITY
|Iheanacho celebrates as he grabs his second and Manchester City’s second in the first half of the FA Cup clash against Aston Villa
The forward composure and maturity clearly blight his age at 19. The way he moves with the ball and passes it to his team mate with pin-point accuracy is a clear indication as we all saw with our eyes against Aston Villa. His composure and maturity on the ball helped him to dispatch and dissipate Aston Villa with a flawless 4-0 victory. The way he finished off the penalty kick was as if he dreamt and scored the penalty in the dream and was presently with a done job in the match proper.
It was out of conviction that the young lad stepped up to connect from 12yards to give City a 2-0 lead much to the delight of the travelling supporters. Of course his composure and maturity will be under scrutiny probably in the UEFA Champions’ league against Dynamo Kiev and from the Aston Villa performance (composed) expect the young lad to swiftly overcome once again with a superb and composed display which is not devoid of maturity.
CLINICAL ON ONE ON ONE SITUATION
|Iheanacho points to the clouds after grabbing his third goal of the game against Aston Villa with 74 minutes of the game played
The young lad is clinical in front of goal is to say the least but his one on one situation with the goal keeper is very much encouraging and reliable and can be tactically built upon as a weapon to deliver in such position. In African U-17 Championship in Morocco 2013 he punished the Congolese goalie with a well-placed effort as the goal tender mistakenly spilled the ball to him out of pressure when the Congolese defender were not in position. He duly guided the ball for a hat-trick in that 7-0 rout of the Congolese, and with Aston Villa again he made no mistake as he converted without the slightest of question.
If there is one player as good as Lionel Messi on one on one, it has to be Kelechi Iheanacho (no hyping) and City and Nigeria must be glad and pleased that they have such a player in their rank to call upon when the need arises in subsequent and crucial games.
GRADUALLY BECOMING A FAN FAVOURITE
|The Manchester City players come together to celebrate their second goal in an impressive first half against albeit poor opposition
The Manchester City prodigy is gradual/becoming a man of the people as his performance have drawn criticism to why he does not get game time, but the reality is that there are many (experience) players ahead of him in the pecking order like Sergio Aguero and Bony Wilfred and Occasionally Kevin De Bruyne who is out injured, may be Iheanacho may not have started against Aston Villa if the Belgium star was fit.
The Nigerian forward is gradually becoming a fan favourite as he started winning the heart of many against Crystal Palace. After that famous day which the young lad belled the cat by scoring a late winner against Crystal Palace he was spotted pulling his jersey and throwing it into the ecstatic City fans who were struggling for his shirt with so much delight to the young lads’ performance.
City fans has also voiced their desire to see Iheanacho start more games as the fans prefer the Nigerian ahead of the big Ivorian forward Bony Wilfred and with the man of the match outing against Crystal Palace which earn him a Senior National call up to the Super Eagles and a performance of this quality against Aston Villa, the young forward is surely and gradually becoming a fan favourite.