All hail Nigeria’s trio of ‘Hattrick-Plus-One’ heroes

All hail Nigeria’s trio of ‘Hattrick-Plus-One’ heroes
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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

A two-digit scoreline is uncommon in competitive international matches. The Super Eagles achieved that in the 10-0 defeat of Sao Tome and Principe.

Also, scoring hattrick in a full international is an enviable feat. Yet, it is not a common phenomenon for an individual to score three goals in a match for Nigeria. The number of players to have achieved the feat in 73 years of Nigeria national team is still under 10.

To raise the bar by scoring four goals or more is even a rarity. Only three players belong to the class of hattrick plus one. They are Elkanah Onyeali, Rashidi Yekini and Victor Osimhen. Although Oghenekaro Etebo scored four against Japan at the football event of Rio 2016 Olympics, the match does not fall within the category of Grade A, being an U23 game.

Onyeali scored four against Benin Republic (then Dahomey); Rashidi put in four against Burkina Faso and now Victor Osimhen has joined the ‘Hattrick Plus One’ club.

Onyeali who achieved the feat first has been the only Nigerian player to have a 100 per cent goalscoring record in just a little over five caps.

Then a  player of the Port Harcourt township team, he burst into reckoning in his first appearance for Nigeria, scoring in an Olympic Games qualifier with Ghana on 10 October 1959.  He did not only score two goals in his first match, he extended his scoring to eight goals in five matches.

He later ventured abroad, playing for the third division Transmere Rovers in the UK.

As if by geometric intention, there appears to be a regular intervals of such. Consider this: El Kanah Onyeali scored four in 10-1 demolition of Benin Republic (then known as Dahomey) in the contest for the newly introduced Kwame Nkrumah Cup  in the West African Football Federation (WAFF) – founded  in Ghana in March 1959 and later went moribund to be refounded on 7 Septemebr 1975 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire as West African Football Union (WAFU). WAFU was later split into two by CAF on 16 May 2011.

After Centre forward Onyeali’s four-goal feat, it took another 32 years before another player, also a centre forward,   Rashidi Yekini equalled the feat. That was in the 21 July 1991 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match with Burkina Faso in Lagos.

Yekini scored four in the 7-1 victory by the Super Eagles. Now 31 years later, another centre forward, Victor Osimhen has equaled the feat, scoring four times in a single match.

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