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Finidi to bank on Lookman against South Africa, Benin

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Victor Osimhen will not be available for the Super Eagles, but South Africa and Benin must still be wary because of the red-hot form of Ademola Lookman.

For those who have kept a close tab on the blossoming career of Lookman, his recent performance which has attracted the attention of the world is not surprising. He is a prodigy who appeared to be grabbing the headlines for good reasons at the right moment.

It is on record that Lookman’s professional career began in 2015 in Charlton Athletic in England where he scored 10 goals in 45 appearances. From 2017-2019, he played for Everton in the English Premiership and scored a single goal in 36 appearances before he was loaned out to RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga where he signed a permanent deal in 2019. He was later loaned to Fulham and Leicester City from where he signed a four-year deal with Atalanta in 2022.

Although he is not blessed with so much physicality, the immensely talented attacking winger slotted himself perfectly into the Serie A side with eye-catching performances even in his first season. On his Atalanta debut, Lookman scored in the 2-0 defeat of Sampdoria.

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Consequently, he finished his first season in Serie A with 15 goals in all competitions. But his second season has proved to be the turning point in his career as he netted 16 times including the historic hat-trick in the Europa League final against Bayer Leverkusen.

Read Also: ‘I respect England but I’ve no regret choosing Nigeria’ – Alex Iwobi

Without a doubt, the 2024 season will remain evergreen in the memory of the striker who started his international career with England before switching nationality to Nigeria. Before he dumped his adopted country, he had won the FIFA U-20 World Championship with England in 2017.

It is also on record that before he switched allegiance, he had thrice rejected Nigeria, first in 2017 shortly before he became a World Champion, and twice in 2018 when the manager of the senior national team of England, Gareth Southgate, convinced him that he had a future with the Three Lions.

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However, in February 2022, FIFA approved Lookman’s request to play for Nigeria. So, in March 2022, he made his debut for the Super Eagles against the Black Stars of Ghana in the final round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers which ended in a 0-0 draw in Accra.

His initial days with the Super Eagles weren’t convincing enough but Lookman actually showed the real stuff he is made of at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire where he clearly overshadowed his teammate and reigning African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen to emerge as Nigeria’s best striker.

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