The Japanese centre-back has only spent a year in Belgium, facing the Super Eagles forward twice
KV Kortrijk defender Tsuyoshi Watanabe has taken a huge swipe at Super Eagles striker Paul Onuachu, suggesting that the KRC Genk star is not as smart as his goal record suggests.
A close observation of Onuachu’s goal account reveals that the forward is the most prolific Nigerian attacker in any of Europe’s first leagues since the start of the 2020/2021 season.
Onuachu, using his height advantage, intelligent movement, and finishing nous, has scored 62 league goals for Genk over the last two and a half seasons, more than any of his countrymen.
Tsuyoshi Watanabe, who arrived in Belgium in December 2021, is one of the defenders who has been on the receiving end of Onuachu’s penalty box prowess.
Three months after the Japanese defender joined Kortrijk, he was not named in the team’s squad that lost to an Onuachu-inspired Genk at the Cegeka Arena.
Onuachu scored the first and assisted the second in a straightforward 2-0 win for the Smurfs last February.
Paul Onuachu and Tsuyoshi Watanabe’s first face-off, however, came in October with the Nigerian claiming the bragging rights at the final whistle.
The KRC Genk striker scored both goals to hand his side a 2-1 home victory in a matchday 11 fixture.
Watanabe edged the most recent meeting between the two, though, keeping Onuachu quiet for 68 minutes before the striker was replaced. Uruguayan forward Felipe Avenatti scored the only goal of the encounter as Kortrijk ran out 1-0 winners at the Guldensporenstadion in December.
And despite his engaging duel with Onuachu, Watanabe believes the striker is not as smart as his Kortrijk teammate, Avennatti, who has six league goals, eight fewer than Onuachu’s haul.
What has been said?
In an interview with Nieuwsblad, Watanabe was asked to compare the Japanese and Belgian leagues, and in his response, the 25-year-old launched his unprovoked attack against Onuachu.
“(The Japanese league) has smarter and more technical players than the Belgian,” Watanabe said.
“Many duels are fought here between big boys. Take the match against Genk now. I faced Onuachu. A good player, but not a smart striker. He only uses his body and I managed to win many headers from him.
“Avenatti was the best striker I ever had to defend against. Last year in the duel against Beerschot, he made it quite difficult for us and scored once. Avenatti is big, but he has a lot of technique and that makes it difficult for a defender.”
Southampton-linked Onuachu has 14 league goals this term, with his contribution helping Genk to establish a six-point lead at the top of the Jupiler Pro League.