The Belgian Jupiler Pro League regular season ended on Sunday. For some, it was a climax and more, but for others, it was a day to forget.
Several Nigerian stars were in action for their various sides on the final day of the season, and Soccernet.ng sheds the searchlight on these Nigerian stars.
Gift Orban (Gent)
Orban took the Jupiler League by storm after he joined Gent from Stabaek in January. His impact was felt even in Europe, as he scored 14 goals in his first 14 games for the club including a hattrick in the Europa Conference League. His performances for Gent gave them a big boost. Before he arrived at the club, the Buffaloes looked content with a place in the Conference League playoff spots. However, Orban’s goals helped the team become contenders for the Championship playoffs spots.
Unfortunately, Orban has simmered down in recent weeks. Gent failed to win any of their last five games that the 20-year-old striker did not score in. The Buffaloes needed a win against Oostende in their final game of the season to qualify for the championship playoffs, but they fluffed their opportunity.
Gent lost 1-0 on their home turf, and Orban failed to score. The loss effectively knocked them out of the championship playoff spots, as they were usurped by Club Brugge.
Raphael Onyedika (Club Brugge)
The Super Eagles star just sealed his move from Midtjylland to Club Brugge last summer, and it has been a rollercoaster for the lad.
Onyedika has worked with three managers at his club this season. They nearly missed out on a playoff spot, but Gent contrived to lose. Club Brugge did the job on their own end, demolishing Eupen 7-0. Onyedika saw 51 minutes of action, but he was not involved in any of his side’s goals.
Onyedika made 28 appearances in the regular season, but he failed to register any goal contribution. He did receive eight yellow cards though.
The Super Eagles midfielder would hope that his team are at their best in the playoffs so they can retain their title.
Alhassan Yusuf (Antwerp)
Yusuf had a great start to the season, featuring in 17 Jupiler League matches. However, he sustained an injury before the World Cup break.
He returned to action in March, but he has been unable to break into the starting eleven. He saw just 15 minutes of action when his Antwerp side defeated St. Truiden to seal the third spot.
Yusuf would look to get back to his best and break into the starting eleven so he can help his team in the playoffs.
Yira Sor and Tolu Arokodare (Genk)
Genk had the services of two Nigerian strikers at the start of the season- Paul Onuachu and Cyriel Dessers. However, both players left the club- Dessers to Cremonese- Onuachu to Southampton.
To replace them, Genk signed Sor from Slavia Prague and Arokodare from Amiens. However, both strikers have not gotten into their stride at the club. The Limburgers were on a roll when they had Dessers and Onuachu earlier in the season, but they have lost their shine.
They narrowly topped the regular league season because of the better goal difference. If they continue with their form in recent weeks, they may not get anything from the playoffs.
Victor Boniface (Royale Union SG)
Boniface joined Royale Union last summer, and he has made his impact felt with seven goals and seven assists in 31 appearances for his side.
The striker’s blend of power and technique have been key in his Royale Union SG’s success this season. They finished second and could have grabbed the top spot if Genk had lost to Charleroi.
Going into the playoffs, he is one of the players to watch out for. And he would look to continue with his brilliance.
Five Nigerian Brothers to Battle for Supremacy in Belgium
The four teams in the Championship playoffs all have at least one Nigerian player. Genk has two, the Royale Union SG, Antwerp, and Club Brugge all have one. The playoffs begin next week.
Meanwhile, Orban will have to make do with the playoffs for the Europa Conference League. Gent seems to be the best of the bunch amongst Westerlo, Standard Liege, and Cercle Brugge.