Iheanacho: Mr FA Cup

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By Peter Akinbo.

Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho will aim to continue his impressive run of form in the FA Cup when his Leicester team face League Two side Walsall at the Banks’ Stadium in the fourth round of the competition, PUNCH Sport Extra reports.

The Nigeria international scored the winning goal for the Foxes in their third-round clash with Gillingham to help them advance in the competition.

The 26-year-old forward is already the highest-scoring African in the FA Cup history ahead of Didier Drogba and Yakubu Aiyegbeni.

His record in the competition has seen him score in every season in the event except in the 2018/19 season.

The forward has been superb since making his debut in the FA Cup in 2016, and has been scoring goals for fun in the competition, with no one scoring as much as he has in the competition since January 2016 when he played his first game.

And in the more than 120-year history of the competition, only 15 players have scored more than the Leicester City forward.

After playing out a goalless draw in the first half of the game, it was Iheanacho who broke the deadlock for Leicester in the 56th minute through an assist from Jamie Vardy to end the match 1-0.

Iheanacho cut an impressive figure for the Foxes throughout the entire duration of the game and was able to mark his excellent performance with the winning goal.

The goal against Gillingham was his 16th in just 22 appearances in the FA Cup, which made him the highest goals scorer in the competition since he made his debut in 2016, with Harry Kane in second with 15 goals.

The former City man speaking after the game against Gillingham spoke about his nickname, ‘Mr. FA Cup’, which has stuck to him.

“I can’t recall when it started but whenever we are talking about FA Cup games, the talks are all about my goals and the nickname, ‘Mr. FA Cup’ stuck on me,” he said.

When Iheanacho netted the first of his brace against Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals in March 2021, he equalled Drogba’s 12-goal haul in the competition.

Iheanacho grabbed a double in that match before scoring the winner in the semi-final versus Southampton to go two goals clear on the FA top-scoring list for Africans.

That same season, the Super Eagle made history with Leicester as the East Midlands club clinched their first-ever FA Cup trophy, with his four-goal tally in the competition instrumental to their success.

Alongside countryman Wilfred Ndidi, Iheanacho’s success in 2021 increased the number of Nigerians who have won the FA Cup trophy to nine, following in the footsteps of Daniel Amokachi (1995), Celestine Babayaro (2000), Nwankwo Kanu (2002, 2003 & 2008), John Utaka (2008), Mikel Obi (2007, 2009 & 2012), Alex Iwobi (2017) and Victor Moses (2018).

Will his goals help the Foxes advance today? Well, you can never bet against ‘Mr FA Cup’ doing the damage again!

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