African Players In Europe: Rodgers Hails Hat-Trick Hero Iheanacho

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (C) runs to celebrate scoring the opening goal past Sheffield United’s English goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale (R) during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Sheffield United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 14, 2021. PHOTO: MOLLY DARLINGTON / POOL / AFP


Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho scored his first Premier League hat-trick at the weekend as he took his Leicester City goal tally to five from three matches.

“I’m delighted for Kelechi,” said Leicester coach Brendan Rodgers. “I see improvement in him and, day by day, he trains so hard.”

It was also the first time the 24-year-old, who joined the Foxes in 2017 from Manchester City, netted in three consecutive league matches.

Here, AFP Sport rounds up the performances of African stars in the major European leagues:



His hat-trick inspired a 5-0 thrashing of bottom club Sheffield United. Iheanacho opened the scoring with a close-range finish in the 39th minute and netted again after 69 minutes from another Jamie Vardy assist. He wrapped up his treble with a long-range rocket in the 78th minute.


The Gabon forward was sensationally dropped ahead of a 2-1 win over north London rivals Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium. Gunners boss Mikel Arteta left his captain on the bench as an unused substitute after he reportedly turned up late for a pre-match team meeting.



Cameroon defender Nyom was sent off for a nasty tackle on Atletico Madrid’s Renan Lodi. Despite the former West Brom and Watford right-back’s 70th-minute dismissal, Getafe held on for a goalless draw with the league leaders to move five points clear of the relegation zone.


The Morocco star scored a brilliant first-half winner in the Seville derby against Real Betis to move his team six points clear in fourth place in La Liga. The 23-year-old’s 20th goal of the season came in the 27th minute, controlling Jesus Navas’ long pass before rounding Betis goalkeeper Joel Robles and sliding in from the tightest of angles.



Gambia’s Barrow paved the way for 12th-placed Bologna’s 3-1 win over Sampdoria, nodding in the first goal after 27 minutes to score his sixth goal of this Serie A campaign. The 22-year-old Atalanta loanee also went on a blistering run through midfield to set up Mattias Svanberg for the second goal.


Ivorian Traore scored the winner nine minutes from time in a 3-2 success over Europa league rivals Hellas Verona. Traore pounced on a poor clearance two minutes after Verona had equalised to seal victory with his third league goal this season.

SIMY (Crotone)

Nigeria’s Simy continued his fine form with a second consecutive brace, but Crotone fell 3-2 at Lazio. The 28-year-old got the first after half and hour and added another from a penalty five minutes after the break.



Nigeria’s Simon gave Nantes a famous 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in an eventful match which could help keep his team in the French top flight next season. The 25-year-old tapped home Randal Kolo’s square pass in the 71st minute.


The 25-year-old’s last-gasp strike for Lyon in a disappointing 1-1 draw at Reims turned out to be a pretty important goal following defeat for PSG and the goalless draw between Ligue 1 leaders Lille and Monaco. The Zimbabwe forward headed home a Memphis Depay cross in the second minute off added time to bag his 10th goal of the season and snatch a draw for his team, who are level on points with PSG and just three behind Lille.


EDMOND TAPSOBA (Bayer Leverkusen)

The Burkina Faso defender failed to stop Japan’s Ritsu Doan from scoring the opening goal as Bayer Leverkusen slumped to a shock 2-1 home defeat to struggling Arminia Bielefeld. Doan beat Tapsoba to a Christian Gebauer cross to give Bielefeld a first-half lead.

KASIM ADAMS (Hoffenheim)

The Ghana defender scored an own-goal in his side’s 2-0 defeat to local rivals Stuttgart. Adams turned Silas Wamangituka’s cross into his own net early in the first half to put Hoffenheim on their way to a first league defeat in over a month.


The Democratic Republic of Congo winger was involved in both goals as his side extended their unbeaten run to five games with a 2-0 win over Hoffenheim. After setting up Adams’ own-goal in the first half, Wamangituka grabbed his fourth assist of the season when he squared the ball to Sasa Kalajdzic.


Rodgers Blames Lack Of Creativity For Rare Celtic Defeat

(FILE COPY) Brendan Rodgers    Photo Credit: AFP

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers bemoaned his side’s lack of creativity after they slipped to a shock 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Saturday.

The Hoops enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but failed to register a shot on target until the final minute after Congolese midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu’s 70th-minute strike secured Killie’s first win over the Scottish champions since October 2012.

It is just the second domestic defeat Rodgers has suffered since arriving at Celtic Park in May 2016 having previously led the Glasgow giants on a record-breaking 69-match unbeaten run.

Rivals Rangers’ recent revival was ended by a 2-1 defeat at Ibrox by Hibernian but Aberdeen’s 3-0 defeat of Hamilton cut the Hoops’ lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to eight points.

“They deserved to win,” admitted Rodgers. “We weren’t creative enough with the ball. It was a disappointing day for us and we’ve not had too many of those in my time up here.

“Defensively, we were a bit passive at times and I didn’t think we were aggressive enough.

“I thought overall we had a lot of the ball but there was no real penetration or creativity to our game.

“There was a lot of talent on the field but not enough quality from them.”

Rodgers has been an outspoken critic of the artificial surface used at Rugby Park in the past.

However, the Northern Irishman refused to use it or early injuries to defenders Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer as excuses for his side’s loss.

“It doesn’t help, certainly, when you lose two of your back three so early in the game,” Rodgers said.

“Of course it means you’ve got to change and alter people’s positioning and obviously differ your plans.

“But I felt we could’ve played here until midnight and not scored. We weren’t really threatening.

“We can blame injuries, we can look at the pitch and all sorts where it’s very difficult to play but the bottom line is we weren’t so good today.”

For Kilmarnock it was a fifth home win in a row as they continue their resurgence under Steve Clarke.

The former West Bromwich Albion manager, who led his side to a 2-1 win over Rangers in December, has claimed four of six points against the Hoops since joining Killie in October last year.

“It was a great performance from the team. Everybody made their contribution,” said Clarke, who has guided his side away from the relegation zone to a place in the top six.

“I said we would have to play almost a perfect game and I think we managed to achieve that.

“It’s down to hard work and application from the players. I’m probably a manager and a coach who demands a lot out of them. I’ve always been the same.

“I like the players to work hard in training. If you work hard in training normally that performance transfers to the weekend matches and that’s been the case since I got here.”


Liverpool: Ancelotti Or Klopp To Manage At Anfield

LiverpoolLess than 24 hours after Brendan Rodgers was sacked by Premier League club, Liverpool, speculation is already rife that either Juergen Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti would be the new manager at Anfield.

Liverpool terminated the contract of Rodgers on Sunday, just eight games into the English Premier League season, with the five-time European champions languishing in 10th place.

The announcement came three hours after the team had drawn 1-1 at Everton in the Merseyside derby, leaving them with only three wins from their first eight league games this term.

Klopp has been without a club since he left Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season, while Ancelotti also left Real Madrid after finishing second best to Barcelona in La Liga and the Champions League.

Former manager, Rodgers, who took over in June 2012, led Liverpool to second place in the 2013-14 campaign, when they led the title race with three games to go, but lost out to Manchester City.

Liverpool’s Rodgers Bullish Ahead Merseyside Derby

Rodgers-liverpoolLiverpool Manager, Brendan Rodgers, remains confident heading into Sunday’s Merseyside Derby, despite another disappointing result in Europe.

A 1-1 draw at home to Sion has put the spotlight firmly back on the Liverpool boss, who made seven changes for their first home Europa League match.

But Rodgers who is expected to recall striker, Daniel Sturridge, insists Goodison Park holds no fear.

According to him, his team is fully focused on getting all three points, despite Everton’s marginal lead of one point on the Premier League table.

Brendan Rodgers: Mario Balotelli Will Get More Chances

According Balotellito manager Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli would not be sold in the January transfer window; he would be given every chance to fight his way back into the team

Balotelli was left out of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round goalless draw with Bolton, provoking  speculation the 24-year-old’s career at Anfield was over.

Rodgers said on Monday  that it’s been a difficult period for the Liverpool striker but “he’s a good boy”.

Balotelli is said to have started the season with just eight league matches, his last in a 2-1 home defeat by Chelsea on 8 November, and has been linked with a move to Lazio.

The Italy forward is yet to score a Premier League goal since arriving from AC Milan last summer.

Rodgers added: “I’ve seen some bits this morning suggesting that’s him done here. That’s not the case at all”.

The team Manager also said: “I’ve shown in my time here that if players who have been out the fold for various reasons work hard every day in training, and show intensity and focus, then they have every chance of getting back in the side and staying there”.