February 13, 2019

King Henry Keeps Scoring From AL KASS to Galatasaray

From Al Kass to Galatasaray- King Henry’s Reign Is Littered With Goals Throughout.

Henry Onyekuru’s ninth goal in the league this season for Galatasaray in the Turkish Super Lig at the end of January 2019, inspired his club to a resounding 6-0 win. That goal was part of Henry’s first hat-trick for his club and the Nigeria international, raised and nurtured at Aspire Football Dreams Academy (AFD) counts among today’s players plying their trade in some of the world’s top leagues who also found themselves on the score sheet at Al Kass International Cup. In 2013 Henry and team-mates travelled from Senegal to Doha to compete in second edition of Al Kass International Cup.

“I have fond memories of my participation with “Aspire International team” at the tournament even though we didn’t achieve the results our team was capable of. I remember our first game was against Real Madrid and although it was a tough contest we had the better of them and after 50 minutes we led 2-0 and l scored the second goal adding on to our early opening goal scored by our midfielder Abdoulaye Sanogo in the 5th minute.

But such is football and it throws some lessons for those who play it. I say so because, two minutes after l scored, Real Madrid got one back and at 2-1 the game changed complexion and had to deal with an opposition that thought they could turn it round and we struggled to respond to this new scenario confronting us. Looking back at the game now l am not sure why we struggled to protect our lead during that tournament. That group match against Real Madrid would end 3-2 in Madrid’s favour and I left the field with a sour taste in the mouth and some regret about how we had let a victory slip through our fingers.

On match day 2 we faced Egyptian club side Zamalek keen not only to redeem ourselves but to avoid defeat if we wanted to reach the quarter finals. Against Zamalek we again had a storming start and Sanogo just like he did in the previous match, had the ball in the back of the net early in the game with just 10 minutes played.

Twenty-three minutes into the match we went two up and we were dominating Zamalek and on track to collect all three points and secure a quarter final place.

Unfortunately, we again failed to hold on to our lead and Zamalek fought back to draw 2-2 and we just made it into quarters on better goal difference ahead of Zamalek.

Apart from our varied and inconsistent performance on the field, l enjoyed the atmosphere at the tournament and watched some entertaining matches when we were not playing.
Among some of the players who shone, and I was struck by were, Liverpool’s Jordan Ibe, Fluminense’s Jonathan Vinicius, Boca Juniors’ Ivan Colman Leonardo and Kingsley Colman of PSG.

Some of the players from that tournament like me have gone on to play in various top leagues in Europe and l hope to meet them should we come against each other in European competitions such as Champions League. This season l played five times in Champions league against, Lokomotive Moscow, FC Porto and FC Schalke which was a wonderful experience.

It is the dream of every young footballer to play at the top and those youngsters playing at Al Kass International Cup tournament today in Qatar will be hoping this is a stepping stone to bigger things for their football careers and they are right to think so.

It was a privilege for me to play in Al Kass Cup in 2013 and holding my own against some of the best clubs in the world gave me confidence and belief that if l continued
working hard and making the most of given opportunities l could play in some of the world top leagues.

Since playing at the 2013 Al Kass Cup edition, l went on to play in Belgium for K.A.S Eupen in both the top Jupiler Pro League and the league below it. I managed to finish joint top goal scorer in K.A.S Eupen’s debut season (2016-17) in the Jupiler Pro League with 22 goals and every tournament and match including playing at Al Kass International Cup was worthy experience that helped me achieve this feat.”

After that barn storming debut season with K.A.S Eupen in the top Belgian League, Henry was bought by English Premier League side, Everton who immediately loaned him to RSC Anderlecht where he would enjoy his first ever European Champions League football. Henry scored 10 goals in 28 games for Anderlecht for 2017-18 season. While at Anderlecht Henry picked up an injury that would rob him of a FIFA World Cup debut at 2018 finals in Russia. Henry watched with pride as fellow Aspire Football Dreams graduates and team-mates, Francis Uzoho and Moussa Wague became first AFD graduates to grace football’s foremost competition.

“Yes, l was disappointed not to be in Russia with my national team, Super Eagles of Nigeria but injuries are part of football. I encourage myself with the knowledge that the next World Cup in in Qatar in three years’ time and should l be part of the Nigeria squad it will be fantastic to return to Qatar where l played at Al Kass Cup before and hopefully get better results than back in 2013.

Either way to play in a World Cup would be fantastic and one that is in Qatar and possibly at Khalifa Stadium that is by Aspire would be a dream come true. Aspire and Qatar mean a lot to me and have been the mainstay of my career and will always be part of my life and the story of my life will forever be associated with Aspire.”