Leicester City go into Saturday’s FA Cup final against Chelsea as rank outsiders, but should the Foxes red-hot striker Kelechi Nwankwo get on the scoresheet, he would become just the second Nigerian striker to score in the final of the competition after Kanu Nwankwo’s trophy-winning goal for Portsmouth in 2008.
On that occasion, Kanu’s 37th minute solitary strike against Cardiff City was enough to win the title for Pompey as well as Man-of-the-Match award for the ex-Nigerian captain.
Iheanacho, who’s powered Leicester City to their first FA Cup final in 52 years with four goals, has already scored more goals in the competition this year than Kanu did in 2008. While Kanu only scored in the semi-finals (1-0 vs West Brom) and final, his younger compatriot has four goals already against Brighton (5th round), Manchester United (2x Q/Finals) and in the semi-finals against Southampton.
Should Iheanacho’s goal be enough to secure a win for the Foxes, he and international teammate, Wilfred Ndidi are in line to join their Nigerian predecessors who have won the prestigious competitions.
The duo will be on the same level with Nigeria-born former England international, John Fashanu who won with Wimbledon in 1988; Daniel Amokachi who helped Everton to a 1-0 win against Manchester United in 1995; John Obi Mikel who won three times (2007, 2009, and 2012) as well as Kanu and former Super Eagles winger John Utaka who won with Portsmouth.
Former Golden Eaglets star Iheanacho is not short on confidence going into Saturday’s showdown with Chelsea who are already in the final of the Champions League.
The striker, having played second fiddle to Leicester City’s first-choice striker James Vardy and even fell further down the pecking order with the arrival of Ayoze Perez has seen a dramatic change in fortune and is now on a scoring spree with 13 goals in his last 12 games across all competitions.
“I think a lot of people wrote me off, but I never lost faith in myself,” Iheanacho told BBC Sport Africa. “I was going through a crazy and difficult time when things just didn’t work out for me. But I’ve worked extremely hard, and also have the manager and other staff at Leicester, and most importantly my brother and friend Wilfred [Ndidi] who stood by me. It’s been a really tough ride, but I’m just delighted it’s all come together for me.”
Though Iheanacho and Leicester have faced some tough opponents on their way to Wembley, Chelsea presents a completely different kind of problem especially since the coming of manager Thomas Tuchel who has turned the Blues around in remarkable fashion to make two finals while still fighting for a top four finish.
Chelsea’s impressive run included massive wins against already-crowned league Champions as well as European giants Real Madrid so the Blues are bookmakers’ favourites to win but Leicester could spring a surprise on Tuchel’s men who are battling on many fronts.