Yekini-Okocha-Ighalo-Lookman: Super Eagles winger joins Nigeria’s AFCON hollowed ranks

Nigeria's Super Eagles booked a spot in the semi-final of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) on Friday, as Ademola Lookman's goal was enough to send the Palancas Negras of Angola packing.

This was Lookman's third goal in the knockout stage, after his brace against Cameroon in the Round of 16.

The Atalanta player becomes just the fourth Nigerian to score three times in the knockout phase of the Nations Cup.

Super Eagles players who scored at least three times in the AFCON knockout stages

It's fair to note that prior to AFCON 2019, there were 16 teams at the Nations Cup, which means that teams only had to win three knockout games in order to hoist the title.

With the expansion to 24 games came the Round of 16, with teams getting an extra match in the knockout stages.

Although some Super Eagles players achieved this feat in four games, there are those who had just three games to do it.

Rashidi Yekini – AFCON 1994

Nigeria won their second Nations Cup title at AFCON 1994 which was hosted in Tunisia.

Rashidi Yekini was not just the top-scorer in that competition with five goals, he was also the best player of the tournament.

The former Olympiacos player scored twice in Nigeria's quarter-final encounter with Zaire (now DR Congo), before scoring in the semi-final against Ivory Coast.

Yekini is Nigeria's all-time leading goalscorer, he has two AFCON Golden Boots to his name.

Rashidi Yekini Super Eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

Austin Jay Jay Okocha – AFCON 2004

10 years later, Tunisia hosted the Nations Cup once again.

This was a rather interesting tournament, which saw four players tied in the race to the Golden Boot with four goals each.

One of those players was Austin Jay Jay Okocha. The former PSG player scored a free kick in the quarter-final, as he led Nigeria to a comeback victory over Cameroon.

Okocha proceeded to score in the semi-final against Tunisia, and in the third-place match against Mali.

The Super Eagles finished third in AFCON 2004.

Austin Jay Jay Okocha Super Eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

Odion Ighalo – AFCON 2019

Odion Ighalo was the top-scorer in AFCON 2019 with five goals, and four of those came in the knockout stages.

The former Watford player scored twice in the Round of 16, in a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Cameroon.

He scored once in Nigeria's heartbreaking 2-1 loss to eventual champions Algeria in the semi-final, before scoring the only goal in their third-place match vs Tunisia.

Odion Ighalo Super Eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

Ademola Lookman – AFCON 2024

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon have conceded more than their fair share of goals to the Super Eagles in the knockout stages of the Nations Cup.

Their fortunes didn't improve at AFCON 2024, as Ademola Lookman scored a brace, ending their Nations Cup campaign.

The Atalanta player also scored Nigeria's only goal in their quarter-final victory over Angola.

Ademola Lookman Super Eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

Interestingly, Lookman has two games left to play in this tournament. He'll set his sights on winning the Golden Boot, like the other three players who scored three times in the knockout stages.

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Kelechi Udoka

Kelechi is an avid Enyimba fan who enjoys writing about the beautiful game. He has written thousands of articles for a few publications over the years.