Ademola Lookman was one of the standout performers for Nigeria in their resounding 6-0 victory over Sao Tome and Principe during the final qualifying round for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Atalanta forward notched a goal and an assist, contributing significantly to Nigeria’s impressive 16-0 aggregate triumph over the island nation.
Lookman wasted no time making his presence felt on the pitch. Just 13 minutes into the match, he delivered a pinpoint corner kick that found the head of Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, resulting in Nigeria’s opening goal.
The former Everton winger doubled Nigeria’s lead with a clinical right-footed shot that left the opposition goalkeeper no chance.
This goal marked Lookman’s first competitive strike in over five months, ending a frustrating goal drought that had persisted since April 1st, when he last found the net for Atalanta.
Ademola’s goal drought
Lookman’s journey in Serie A had been a rollercoaster ride. During his debut season, he impressed by netting 13 league goals (plus two more in the Coppa Italia), a tally that outshone all but four players in the league.
However, his goal-scoring momentum took a hit due to injury, causing a dip in form towards the end of the 2022/23 season.
Unfortunately, Lookman’s struggles continued into the new campaign, as he failed to secure the trust of his manager, Gian Piero Gasperini. A lack of goals in the first three games of the season and limited playing time highlighted his struggle for form and confidence.
A rejuvenating international break
However, the international break could be a turning point for Lookman.
Rejoining the Nigerian national team in Uyo, he was surrounded by familiar faces and a supportive atmosphere. His infectious enthusiasm was palpable as he trained with his international teammates.
Head coach of the national team, Jose Peseiro, recognised Lookman’s dedication and rewarded him with a starting spot against Sao Tome and Principe.
Lookman repaid that trust with a goal, an assist and the 33ExportNigeria’s MVP of the match award.
As Lookman returns to Atalanta, he has renewed confidence and self-belief.
His remarkable dribbling skills and sharp finishing abilities will contribute to his resurgence.
Atalanta’s clash with Fiorentina on September 17 looms, and if Lookman can replicate the form he displayed in Nigeria, it will not be long before he returns to the starting lineup and goalscoring form in Bergamo.
And ahead of the AFCON in January, it is in the best interest of Nigeria and Atalanta that Lookman rediscovers his goal-scoring spark.