Tolu Arokodare revels in match-winning brace as Genk thump Royal Antwerp

Nigeria forward Tolu Arokodare made an impressive cameo off the bench as Genk coasted to a 3-0 victory over Royal Antwerp in the Belgian topflight.

The 23-year-old netted a brace within eight minutes of coming on to take his tally for the season to nine goals in all competitions.

Having replaced Christopher Baah in the 69th minute, Arokodare needed just six minutes to get on the score sheet, after being set up by compatriot Collins Sor.

The lanky striker added a second just two minutes later with another smart finish, this time benefiting from Bilal El Khannouss’ pass.

The young forward has been in fine form for Genk in recent weeks, and his latest double means he now averages a goal every 99 minutes in the Jupiler Pro League.

The Boxing Day clash between Genk and Royal Antwerp saw some of Nigeria’s brightest prospects coming head-to-head against each other.

While Arokodare and Sor lined up in the Blue corner, Chidera Ejuke, Alhassan Yusuf and George Ilenikhena were on the opposite side. Sor was named in Genk’s starting and Arokodare came off the bench, with both making an impact. For Royal Antwerp, though, the Nigerian trio of Ejuke, Yusuf and Ilenikhena all started from the bench but were introduced in the 46th, 74th and 65th minutes, respectively.

Arokodare revels in beautiful feeling

Arokodare, basking in excitement after grabbing a first double in the Belgian top division, described the feeling as beautiful.

“I have never scored twice since I started playing for Racing Genk. This is a very beautiful feeling,” he was quoted as saying by Complete Sport, in the aftermath of Genk's comfortable win.

Arokodare said he and his teammates were desperate to return to winning ways after last Saturday’s disappointing defeat to Anderlecht.

“We wanted to send a message after the previous match, in which things did not go as planned. We not only wanted the three points but also to show that we can play football, regardless of what everyone thinks about the referee.

“There was not really frustration, but mainly disappointment. It was mainly a motivation for us to get the three points today. We put in a strong performance against Antwerp. We finally got what we deserve.”

Arokodare, who will not be playing a part in Nigeria's AFCON camapign, will be hoping that his recent exploits will guarantee him a lot more game time when Genk return from the mid-season break.

The Belgian giants will not be in action until late next month, when they take on Cercle Brugge on January 20, 2024.

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Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an African sports writer, with bylines on DW, Al Jazeera, World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.