Kaduna United forward, Jude Aneke, attained legendary status in Nigeria’s top flight when he became the first player to hit the 20-goal mark.
Wednesday’s historic feat has boosted the profile of the forward, who is already close to a deal in Belgium.
The praise for Aneke has been gushing in the past week considering the manner he got his 17th goal at champions Enyimba, where his side lost 1-4. He was also the first to score 16 goals.
Aneke ensured the visitors from Minna had a miserable road trip after scoring a hat-trick which sent the enthusiastic home fans into seventh heaven. However, Tornadoes didn’t leave Kaduna without scoring a goal.
Interestingly, it was his second hat-trick this term.
The Kaduna United forward was the first player to score 17 goals this term, but the duo of George Akpabio and Ibrahim Ajani also hit 17 goals on match day 35 to set up an exciting race for the Golden Boot award this term.
The trio are in a close race for the highest goal scorer award, but Aneke has raised the bar with his performance on Wednesday.
In Jos, Plateau United’s Akpabio was unable to increase his tally as he failed to score in the famous Jos derby against Juth, while Sunshine Stars’ Ajani will have to wait till Friday when his team plays Zamfara United to push for more goals.
Last term, former Kano Pillars attacking winger cum forward, Ahmed Musa erased the 17-goal record set by former Iwuanyanwu Nationale forward, Ishaya Jatau, which was equaled in 2009 by former Akwa United star, Akarandut Orok.
Musa, who is now an integral member of the Super Eagles scored 18 goals to become the new all-time goal-king. However, Musa’s feat lasted for only a season as Aneke’s hat-trick took his tally to 20 to become Nigeria’s new king of goal.
NPL legend, Victor Ezeji, said he’s not suprised at Aneke’s achievement.
“When Musa erased the previous record, I knew another player would do better than Musa. It’s usually like that. Musa opened the way for others when he scored 18 goals last term,” Ezeji, who scored 16 goals to finish as joint-top scorer with Joetex Frimpong, in 2002, said to SuperSport.com.
On the eve of the season, Aneke set a record of 20 goals and with two matches to go the forward believes he can raise the bar.
Aneke is the only player to score two hat-tricks in the NPL this term.
He was the match-day-hero with a hat-trick back in August when Kaduna United hit Lobi Stars 4-2 in a rescheduled NPL match.
The Ebonyi State University graduate opened the scoring on 24 minutes off a rebound following the failure of the Lobi defenders to clear their lines and doubled the after he received a through pass; outsmarting a Lobi defender before placing the ball behind the goalkeeper.
His hat-trick was complete on 57 minutes as he dispatched a penalty.
Aneke was equally magical against Tornadoes on match day.
The first goal was scored after he capitalized on a blunder by a defender. He connected a pass from a teammate to his second and 19th goal of the season and finally scored his 20th goal of the through a header.
Tornadoes star, Daniel Etor stated that Aneke’s ability to position himself well was responsible for the defeat.
“We played a good game, but Aneke scored all three goals because he was at the right place at the right time,” Etor said to SuperSport.com.
Although the defenders gave him no breathing space, Aneke told SuperSport.com that he was always alert whenever the ball was close to the Tornadoes area.
“I always watch the defenders whenever the ball is in motion. In fact, I have an eye on the ball and another on the defenders to observe their movements. This gave me the chance to position myself properly and do the damage,” Aneke stated.
In less than two years, the forward has scored 32 Premier League goals.
In fact, he joined Kaduna United during the season from lower division side, Anambra United and scored more goals than some players who spent the entire season in the top flight.
Aneke scored 20 goals in all competitions last term (12 goals in the NPL goals and eight in the Federation Cup).
The forward has attributed his outstanding performance this term to the club’s technical crew and his teammates.
“The coaches have done well and my teammates have been there for me. It’s collective responsibility. They’ve always told me that I can achieve it,” he said to SuperSport.com.
The race is yet to be completed with two rounds of matches this term. The good news is that Aneke’s hunger and humility are vital ingredients that can earn him more goals.
In his words: “I’ve reached my personal target of 20 goals, but I want to score more goals. It’s possible because we have two matches to complete the season.”