EPL: Ex-stars back Awoniyi, Aribo to shine

JOHNNY EDWARD

Ex-internationals Emmanuel Amuneke, Ifeanyi Udeze and Ike Shorunmu have backed Premier League new boys Taiwo Awoniyi and Joe Aribo to come good for their respective teams following their shaky start to the campaign, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

Both players had a debut to forget as their EPL teams suffered humiliating defeats on the opening day of the season.

Aribo, who was impressive for Southampton during pre-season, failed to inspire the Saints as they slumped to a 4-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur. The usually exciting midfielder also struggled to hold onto the ball and was disposed of it three times, though he won one tackle, two aerial duels and dribbled past his opponents once.

Awoniyi, on his part, played for 27 minutes after he came on for Sam Surridge on his league debut in Nottingham Forest’s 2-0 loss to Newcastle United.

The Nigerian found it difficult breaking a Magpies defence marshaled by Fabian Schaar, Dan Burn, Kieran Trippier and Matt Targett.

Speaking with PUNCH Sports Extra, former Super Eagles winger, Olympic gold medalist and 1996 African Player of The Year, Emmanuel Amuneke, said the duo needed time to adapt to the pace and intensity of the Premier League.

“Awoniyi and Aribo are great talents,” Amuneke said.

“It is obvious to see, when you see Aribo on the ball, his decision making and forward runs with the ball, show his quality. I think they just need time to settle in well in their teams. The intensity of the Premier League cannot be compared with other European leagues, so, I feel they are adapting.

“Aribo did his best in his role.

“I trained Awoniyi as a young player, he is a very good player technically, but of course, there are other aspects that must be improved.”

Eagles’ goalkeepers trainer, Ike Shorunmu, also backed Awoniyi to justify his big-money move to the Premier League.

“Strikers are being judged by the number of goals they score and I am confident that Taiwo will justify his move to the Premier League.

”It was a difficult start to the EPL for them, but their efforts for their teams was good. If Awoniyi puts in more effort, he will score goals and that applies to Aribo too.”

Udeze, a member of Nigeria’s 2002 and 2004 AFCON bronze medal Eagles squad, added, “They (Aribo and Awoniyi) need time and lots of confidence from their coaches and team to shine for their clubs. The Premier League is tough and we all know that. It is just the first game, they will be better with time.”

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