• Sports - Football
  • Updated: February 01, 2024

Seven Nigerian players with highest goals in AFCON competition

Seven Nigerian players with highest goals in AFCON competiti

Nigeria made its Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) debut in 1963, with Asuquo Ekpe scoring the country's first goal in the competition.

Since then, several more players have helped Nigeria score an incredible 137 goals in the continental tournament.

Nigeria has seen some exceptional talent grace the competition throughout the years, with players making an indelible stamp on the tournament's history. 

In this listicle, we will explore seven Nigerian players with the highest goals in the AFCON competition. 

7. Peter Osaze Odemwingie - 5 goals

Odemwingie debuted at the 2004 AFCON in Tunisia after deciding to represent Nigeria internationally.

He immediately won the hearts of Super Eagles supporters by scoring twice in the second half of the team's 4-0 thumping of South Africa in a group-stage fixture.

After scoring the game-winning goal in the 2-1 victory against Mali in the third-place match, he finished the tournament with three goals.

At Angola 2010, Odemwingie made a comeback with two more goals, helping the Super Eagles earn another bronze medal.

The former Lille striker would later regret missing out on the 2013 Afcon as a Stephen Keshi-inspired team won the tournament in South Africa.

6. Muda Lawal - 5 goals

During the 1976 AFCON, one of the most thrilling teams was Nigeria. The Green Eagles scored 11 goals, with three coming from Baba Otu Mohammed and four more, including a brace from Muda Lawal.

Lawal would play for the Green Eagles in four more Afcons, making history as the first player from the continent to participate in five consecutive tournaments.

These competitions ensured the former Shooting Stars ace's place in history with two bronze medals, a silver medal, a gold medal, and three more goals.

5. Odion Ighalo - 5 goals

Even though the Super Eagles only managed a third-place finish, Ighalo proved he was no novice in front of goal as he struck the net five times to win the best scorer title in Egypt 2019.

The former Manchester United loanee declared his immediate retirement from international competition after the victory. However, he returned to the Super Eagles in time to be included in the roster for Cameroon 2021.

4. Julius Aghahowa - 6 goals

Nigeria's team at Ghana/Nigeria 2000 included four skilled strikers: Nwankwo Kanu of Arsenal, Jonathan Akpoborie of Wolfsburg, Victor Ikpeba of Borussia Dortmund, and Benedict Akwuegbu of Grazer AK.

However, Julius Aghahowa, a young attacker for Esperance, stole the show in that competition with three incredible goals, including the game-winning brace in the quarterfinals against Senegal.

Mali 2002 saw Nigeria finish a dismal third once more, but Aghahowa had an amazing campaign alone.

Along with earning the distinction of being named Team of the Tournament, he scored three more goals to share the goal-king title with Patrick Mboma and Salomon Olembé. 

3. Segun Odegbami - 6 goals

1978 saw Ghana host and win the 11th AFCON but Segun Odegbami had a lasting impact on the competition.

Mostly used as a winger, the star player for the Shooting Stars of Ibadan scored three goals in his debut in the championship game to assist Nigeria win the bronze.

Odegbami's three-goal performance was duplicated two years later, and this time it was sufficient to give the Eagles their first-ever Afcon victory and put him on this elite list.

2. Austin Jay-Jay Okocha - 7 goals

Although Okocha was part of that winning team in Tunisia in 1994, the midfield maestro did not score at an Afcon until Ghana/Nigeria in 2000.

The Paris Saint-Germain playmaker scored twice in the 4-2 defeat of Tunisia in the opening match before smashing a goal-of-the-tournament contender in the final against Cameroon. It was, however, not enough to power Nigeria to the title.

After becoming the joint-top scorer and winning the 2004 Tunisia Most Valuable Player award, Okocha cemented his legacy as one of Africa's greatest players. 

1. Rashidi Yekini - 13 goals

Fittingly, Nigeria's all-time leading scorer also has the most goals in African championships.

Thirteen of Yekini's 37 goals for the Eagles came in four Nations Cups.

The former Vitoria Setubal striker scored once in Morocco '88 and three times in Algeria '90, as Nigeria won silver medals in both tournaments.

The Eagles placed third in Senegal '92, where Yekini reaffirmed his title as the continent's best marksman with four goals and the top scorer's trophy.

Yekini's last AFCON was his most successful as he scored five goals and recaptured the best goalscorer award to help Nigeria win the championship in Tunisia in 1994. 

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