For 90 thrilling minutes, the young Nigerian forward was by some distance the best player on the pitch of the Het Kuipje
KAA Gent manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck is convinced that Gift Emmanuel Orban’s dazzling debut display is evident that the club made the right decision in spending millions on the youngster on transfer deadline day.
Gent signed Orban from Stabæk Fotball on January 31st after parting with €3.5 million – making the 20-year-old the joint-seventh most expensive arrival in the club’s history.
Administrative hiccups prevented Orban from making his first appearance for Gent earlier but the Bison FC academy product was named in the Buffalos’ starting lineup for the trip to Westerlo on Saturday.
And the young striker delivered a performance beyond his age, winning a penalty for Gent’s opening goal before scoring twice in a 3-3 draw at the Het Kuipje.
And head coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck believes that should shut critics questioning the huge outlay on the youngster while trusting there is more to come from the Nigerian.
What has been said?
“He has only trained three times,” Hein Vanhaezebrouck told HLN.
“Gift has qualities that we didn’t have in our team. We had him on the radar for some time, but due to circumstances (i.e. the financial possibilities, ed.) we had to wait a long time. And in the end, we also paid a lot of money for him. But if he continues like this, there will be no more cock crowing for those pennies.
“He has proven that he has scoring ability and more than that – dueling power and running ability. He likes the spaces very well and is ball-resistant. We can really use a player like Gift.”
After registering an impressive 19 goals and seven assists in 24 appearances at Norway’s Stabæk Fotball, Orban would be the least surprised by how great a start he has made in Belgium.
The Nigerian forward is convinced there is more to come from him with help from coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck and his teammates.
“A successful debut? You can say that,” Orban admits. “Although we should have won.
“Look, the confidence I felt from the coach and my teammates really gave me a lot of enthusiasm for this match. I have to thank my teammates for the great assists.
“I always talk to the midfielders a lot. Tell them what my qualities are, and how I want the ball. I haven’t trained much yet, but we already find each other. I want to grow further at this big club.”
Gift Orban will hope to make a similar impact when Gent travel to take on Qarabag FC in the first leg of the intermediate stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League on Thursday.