By: Johnny Edward.
Gent’s impressive run towards the end of last season offered so much optimism in large part because of Gift Orban’s outstanding goalscoring form, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
The Nigerian joined Gent from Stabaek in January and even though he only joined in the middle of the campaign, he scored 20 goals in 22 games — a feat that has seen clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham monitor his progress.
Orban became the mainstay of Gent’s attack last season as they qualified for the UEFA Conference League and his rich vein of form left many with the feeling that another similar season would be ahead of the Nigerian.
This season, though, has so far been a sharp contrast from the last for Orban, who has only found the back of the next six times from 12 in all competitions — two in seven league games — and has failed to score in his last four games in all competitions.
Despite Orban’s dip in form, Gent are unbeaten in the Belgian Jupilier league this season with five wins and four draws from their opening nine games and they sit second in the table behind leaders Union Saint Gilloise.
The 21-year-old made a return from his two-match suspension in Gent’s 1-1 draw away at RWD Molenbeek last Sunday and was largely anonymous in the game — a display that saw his coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck raise concerns about the current form of his most prized asset.
“He is the top scorer after all,” Vanhaezebrouck said of Orban.
“We created many chances, but not when he came on. That also means something. You also have to be able to create your chances. We barely saw him (Orban). You have that as a striker. You have periods when every ball falls well, but not now. Our crosses were not good enough either. Previously he was always in the right place. The efficiency was not there. We are having a hard time scoring.”
Orban’s last goal came in August against Sint Truiden and former goalkeeper Dosu Joseph believes the striker can end his drought against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday.
“Every striker goes through a dry spell and it depends on how individuals manage to overcome them,”Dosu told PUNCH Sports Extra.
“We all saw recently, how Osimhen shut his critics up with his goals after playing some games without scoring. For Orban, his team will need to play to his strength like they had been doing to help him end his drought.”
Football agent, Ayo Makinwa, also shares Dosu’s thoughts on Orban.
“He needs to be patient and the coach needs to make him more confidence, that he is the main man at the club, again. He made his first appearance last weekend after some weeks out and I believe it will put him in good shape against Maccabi Tel Aviv.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv lead Group B after their 3-2 win over Icelandic side Breioablik on match-day 1, while Gent are second with one point following their 1-1 draw against Zorya.