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Celebration as Osunwa breaks 30-year Arab goals record



Nigeria striker Kelechi Osunwa on Sunday emerged as the all-time highest goals scorer in a single season in the Arab leagues, after his hat-trick took his tally to 38 goals.

The Al Ahly Shendi forward thus erased Algerian Nacer Bouiche’s 36 goals record for JS Kabylie in the 1985/86 season. The fringe Super Eagles striker also entered the record books with the feat, as he became the first man to emerge as top scorer five times (2006, 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2016) in the Sudanese topflight as well as the all-time highest scorer in the country.

Osunwa, top scorer at the CAF U-17 Championship in 2001, said goals scoring had always been part of his game right from his childhood days on the streets of Port Harcourt.

“It’s something in-built: I’ve got good positioning, timing and confidence in front of goal. When I started scoring on the streets, it gave me the inspiration to move forward,” he said.

Ironically, Osunwa was dropped from the Golden Eaglets squad to the U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago in controversial circumstances 15 years ago, after scoring five goals to help his country win the title in Seychelles and qualify for the World Cup.

However, the player bounced back to pick the pieces of his career by joining hometown club Dolphins, where he emerged as top scorer, before moving to Sudanese giants Al Hilal 10 years ago.

“The experiences I had in the past pushed me to work very hard to concentrate more on my club career. And I’m happy to have achieved this feat. When I had 35 goals with three games to the end of the season, I kept praying; I kept my cool and focused on every game. I didn’t allow anything to distract me because I was in the scoring mood. I put more effort in every game to make sure I scored and everything went well,” he added.

Osunwa spent three years at Al Hilal, helping them to the semifinal of the CAF Champions League, before joining fierce rivals Al Merreikh, where he won the Sudan Premier League in 2011 and 2013. He had short stints in Thailand and Egypt in 2014 starring for Tero Sasana and Ismaily respectively but returned to Sudan last year to join Al Ahly Shendi.

“I’m used to the system, I started playing here (Sudan) in 2006; I’m used to the environment, the culture and I have made lots of friends here. It’s more or less like my second home because I’ve spent almost a decade here,” he added.Punch