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George Ilenikhena: Royal Antwerp’s Franco-Nigerian wonderkid sets personal best against Gent

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The 17-year-old achieved a landmark thanks to his effort against the Buffalos in the Belgian topflight

 

George Ilenikhena recorded a personal best as Royal Antwerp settled for a 2-2 draw Gent in Sunday’s Belgian Pro League encounter.

With the Great Old on the verge of defeat inside Ghelamco Arena, the Nigerian teenager played a super-sub role to ensure the cracker ended on a no winner, no vanquished note.

Replacing Jurgen Ekkelenkamp on the hour mark, Ilenikhena drilled the ball past goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt after he was teed up by compatriot Victor Udoh with six minutes left on the clock.

Thanks to that, he now boasts seven goals in the 2023-24 campaign – a feat that saw him overtake his record of goals scored in a single European league term.

During the 2022-23 season at Amiens 2, the 17-year-old found the net on six occasions – a feat that inspired his move to the Belgian elite division giants for a reported fee of €6 million.

Impressively, the Lagos-born striker is his team’s second highest goalscorer in the Pro League, despite playing more as a substitute.

His Nigerian teammates Chidera Ejuke and Alhassan Yusuf were handed a starter’s role by manager Mark van Bommel, nonetheless, they were substitute for Gyrano Kerk and Eliot Matazo respectively in the second-half.

Royal Antwerp – with just a defeat in their last five outings in all competitions – remain fourth on the log having accrued 45 points in 27 matches played so far.

They are 20 points behind leaders Union Saint-Gilloise. Next up for the Antwerp based outfit is a league fixture against Sint-Truiden. Prior to that, they will host KV Oostende in a cup outing.

Despite his Nigerian origin, he is eligible to represent the French national team at the international level.

Ilenikhena first featured for the France youth team in the summer of 2021, as he was selected with the under-16 alongside Paris Saint-Germain’s Warren Zaire-Emery.

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