Turkish Cup final: Onuachu’s solo effort not enough to save Trabzonspor

Trabzonspor's quest for their first Turkish Cup title in four years fell short on Thursday night, as they succumbed to a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat against Besiktas in a thrilling final at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium.

Despite valiant efforts from Nigerian striker Paul Onuachu and Ivorian winger Nicolas Pepe, the Black Sea Storms were ultimately undone by a late Besiktas onslaught.

Onuachu, known for his towering presence and clinical finishing, got Trabzonspor off to a dream start. In the 12th minute, he expertly received a pass on the halfway line, burst past the Besiktas defense with his trademark powerful stride, and coolly dinked the ball over the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Mert Günok to open the scoring.

However, Besiktas refused to be subdued. Just before the half-time whistle, they drew level from the penalty spot. Algerian attacker Rachid Ghezzal stepped up confidently and converted the penalty, sending Trabzonspor fans into a momentary state of silence.

The second half unfolded with renewed intensity. Just nine minutes after the restart, Besiktas took the lead for the first time in the game. Salih Uçan found the back of the net, sending a wave of euphoria through the Besiktas faithful and putting Trabzonspor on the back foot.

Paul Onuachu
Photo by Icon Sport

Undeterred, Trabzonspor launched a spirited comeback. With one minute remaining on the regular time clock, they were rewarded for their persistence. Nicolas Pepe, known for his pace and trickery, rose to the occasion and slotted home a crucial equaliser, reigniting hope for a dramatic comeback.

Unfortunately for Trabzonspor, their joy was short-lived. In the dying moments of the game, with stoppage time already underway, hearts were broken in the Trabzonspor camp. Mutassim Al Musrati delivered the killer blow for Besiktas, scoring the winning goal in the fourth minute of added time. This dramatic late strike secured the Turkish Cup trophy for Besiktas, leaving Trabzonspor players and fans devastated.

While Trabzonspor ultimately fell short in the final, credit must be given to Paul Onuachu for his impressive performance throughout the tournament. The powerful Nigerian forward found the net twice in his four appearances, showcasing his lethal finishing ability. Tonight's goal brings his overall tally for the season to a commendable 21 goals across all competitions, solidifying his reputation as one of the most dangerous strikers in Turkish football.

Loan star Onuachu at the center of tug-of-war between Trabzonspor and Southampton

The towering Nigerian striker, currently on loan at Trabzonspor from Southampton, has become a red-hot property in the transfer market after a blistering run of form in the Turkish Super Lig. Despite arriving on loan, Onuachu has established himself as a vital cog in the Trabzonspor machine, bagging a staggering 15 goals in just 21 appearances. However, his future remains shrouded in uncertainty. 

The “Purple and Blue” fanbase at Trabzonspor have been mesmerized by Onuachu's clinical finishing. His impact has been undeniable, and the club's management is actively pursuing negotiations to extend his loan deal beyond the current season.

Recognizing his crucial role, Trabzonspor are likely to submit a significantly improved offer in the coming days, hoping to entice the Super Eagles star to stay put in Turkey.

Paul Onuachu's English dream clouds Trabzonspor's plans

However, sources close to the 29-year-old striker suggest a preference for a return to England. Perhaps Onuachu harbors a desire to permanently rediscover his goalscoring form on English soil. This presents a significant hurdle for Trabzonspor, who must now work tirelessly to convince him of their long-term vision and the project's potential for continued success.

Demonstrating a proactive approach, Trabzonspor are seemingly preparing for all possibilities. Reports suggest another Nigerian striker, Tolu Arokodare, is being considered as a potential Plan B if their pursuit of Onuachu falters. Arokodare shares similar physical attributes with Onuachu, hinting at Trabzonspor's determination to maintain a dominant and physical presence upfront.

Turkish club with links to Southampton to hijack Paul Onuachu’s transfer to Trabzonspor
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The coming days are set to witness an intensifying tug-of-war between Trabzonspor and Southampton for Onuachu's services. Trabzonspor will undoubtedly attempt to sway him with a lucrative offer and the allure of a key role in their future endeavors. On the other hand, Southampton may present the opportunity for Onuachu to prove himself in the Premier League once again. This transfer saga promises to be one of the most intriguing stories as the summer transfer window approaches.

Onuachu's club exploits fuel World Cup ambitions for Nigeria striker

Paul Onuachu's red-hot goalscoring form for Trabzonspor has ignited his hopes of securing a more prominent role in the Nigerian national team, specifically for the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

While included in the Super Eagles squad for the recent Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast, Onuachu found himself on the fringes of the action despite Nigeria's impressive run to second place. Now, the towering striker aims to rewrite that narrative by replicating his club form on the international stage.

Onuachu's path to a starting role won't be a walk in the park. Established names like Victor Osimhen, Victor Boniface, and Cyriel Dessers are all proven goal threats and will be vying for Coach Finidi George's attention as he prepares to announce his squad for the crucial qualifiers against South Africa and Benin.

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Photo by Icon Sport

The clock is ticking for the Super Eagles, with their qualifying campaign resuming on 7 June. They will have home advantage first, hosting South Africa in Uyo, before traveling to Abidjan to face Benin Republic.

Currently, the Super Eagles find themselves in a precarious position, sitting third in Group C with only two points garnered from draws against Lesotho and Zimbabwe. Rwanda currently occupy the top spot, followed by South Africa. Nigeria need a strong showing in these upcoming qualifiers if they are to solidify their position and climb the group table.

Onuachu's recent goal avalanche for Trabzonspor offers a glimmer of hope for Coach Finidi George. The goalscoring prowess he demonstrated in Turkey could be the missing piece for the Super Eagles' attack, propelling them towards World Cup qualification.

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Toyosi Afolayan

Toyosi Afolayan is a sports journalist who breathes life into the games we love. He loves to combine insightful analysis with historical background, creating a richer understanding of sports. Afolayan's expertise ranges from captivating narratives to live broadcasts, captivating audiences across platforms like Ojbsport, AllNigeriaSoccer, TVC Entertainment, Bounce Networks, Kwara TV, ICIR, EaglesTracker, and NFF TV. His background in History and International Studies adds depth, revealing the connections between sports, politics, and national identity.