By Ephraim Nwosu
The brilliant form of Gift Orban with Belgian giants, KAA Gent has not gone unnoticed as he has been called up by Salisu Yusuf, Head coach of Nigeria’s U-23 boys ahead of this month’s all important U23 AFCON final qualifying fixture against Guinea.
Orban has netted an amazing 12 goals in nine games across all competitions for Gents. It would be recalled that the 20-year-old Nigerian striker made history last week when he scored the fastest hattrick in any European competition in Gent’s Europa Conference League 4-1 victory over Turkish club Basaksehir FK. In the first half, Orban scored a hattrick within a space of just four minutes-the fastest record in UEFA history.
Apart from the Belgium based new headline-grabber, Yusuf’s list of invitees also includes team captain, Success Makanjuola, whose two converted spot kicks against Tanzania earned the 1996 Olympic gold-medalists passage to this final round. There are also midfielder Abiodun Ogunniyi and Bello Babatunde among others.
The Olympic Eagles trade tackles with their Guinean counterparts in a first leg encounter scheduled for the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja from 4pm on Wednesday, 22nd March, with the return set for the Complexe Sportif Prince Heritier Moulay Al Hassan from 7pm Morocco time on Tuesday, 28th March. Guinea does not have any venue approved in the country for international matches.
As happened against the Tanzanians in Dar es Salaam and Ibadan in October last year, Makanjuola is expected to lead the charge against the Guineans in Abuja on Wednesday, perhaps alongside Orban, with Babatunde and Ogunniyi (nicknamed Omo-Jesu) pulling the strings from the middle.