UPDATED: ODION IGHALO REDEEMS HIS IMAGE, JOINS NIGERIA’S HAT-TRICK SCORERS

UPDATED: ODION IGHALO REDEEMS HIS IMAGE, JOINS NIGERIA’S HAT-TRICK SCORERS

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

 

The match was won. But that tells little about the story. The story is more about the match hero, Odion Ighalo who ahead of the match, was the most vilified Super Eagles’ player owing to countless number of goals he lost at the World Cup, especially in the game with Argentina.

 

His scoring form in the Chinese league only made fans to hate him the more, as they had wanted those goals to be for the national team.

Ighalo answered to the yearnings. He scored 1-2-3 goals to silence his critics. When he was eventually substituted late in the game, he was given deafening ovation.

That is to be expected. After all, scoring hat trick in a full international is an enviable feat. From 1949 when Nigeria first had a national team till now, Ighalo becomes the eighth player to achieve that feat.

 

This however does not take into account, the three goals scored by Chisom Chikatara for the second tier Nigerian team against Niger Republic during the 2016 African Nations Championship.

 

Only two players ever achieved a four-goal feat. They are Elkhana Onyeali in 1959 and Rashidi Yekini in 1991.

 

For Nigeria, the hat-trick scorers across the ages are: Buraimoh in the 10-1 defeat of Dahomey (now Republic of Benin) on November 8, 1959; Paul Hamilton in a 4-0 defeat of Senegal during a third place match of Nkrumah Cup on February 27, 1963 in Accra; Bobo Mordi in a 4-1 win in a friendly game with Gabon on August 29, 1965; Thompson Usiyen scoring three goals against Benin Republic in a 7-0 win on February 14, 1977.

 

It was in the 1977 match that Adokiye Amiesimaka made his international debut for Nigeria.

 

Other hat trick scorers for Nigeria are Segun Odegbami in another 7-0 defeat over Republic of Benin in another 7-0 rout on January 14, 1978 in a qualifying match for the 3rd All Africa Games and Rashidi Yekini also scoring three goals against Ethiopia in a 6-0 win on July 14, 1993.

 

It was in this match that Peter Rufai became the first scoring goalkeeper for Nigeria as he converted a penalty kick.

 

Before Odion Ighalo’s feat on Saturday, Nnamdi Oduamadi scored three goals in the  6-1 defeat of Tahiti at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. Before then, it had been 13 years since the main stream Super Eagles had a hat-trick achiever. That was Victor Ikpeba in a 4-0 defeat of Namibia in a 2002 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Lagos on September 2, 2000.

 

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