Goal’s Oluwaseye Omidiora dissects the importance of the Foxes frontman heading into Saturday’s match against Chelsea
Kicking off Goal Africa’s new series Hotseat, features writer Oluwaseye Omidiora goes in-depth to discuss one of his latest articles on the subject of Kelechi Iheanacho’s remarkable season for Leicester City.
The Nigeria striker has been in sensational form in 2021, and on Saturday, he faces arguably the biggest game of his career when he features for the East Midlanders in the FA Cup final.
It’s the first time since 1969 that the Foxes have featured in the showpiece fixture in the England football calendar, and Brendan Rodgers’ side are aiming for their first victory in the competition.
For context, no side has reached the final more times than Leicester (four) without bringing home the gold, and the 2016 Premier League champions will be desperate not to make it five unlucky final defeats come Saturday’s meeting with Chelsea.
African talent such as Edouard Mendy, Hakim Ziyech and Wilfred Ndidi will all be on show at Wembley, but for Omidiora, it’s Iheanacho who holds the key for Leicester’s success.
“In 2021, Jamie Vardy has tailed off, he hasn’t been producing the goods and scoring goals,” Omidiora told Goal Africa’s Hotseat show, “[but] Iheanacho tends to score goals out of nothing.
“He has been the one to help their top four aspirations, he’s been the one carrying them.”
While few had expected Iheanacho’s scoring form of recent months, particularly after he had struggled to previously impress when handed an opportunity for Leicester, the striker does have an awesome record in the competition.
Since he made his FA Cup debut for Manchester City, no one has scored more in the competition than Iheanacho, while the Nigerian also proved to be the hero against Southampton in the semi-final.
It was Iheanacho’s 55th-minute effort that powered Rodgers’ troops to their Wembley showdown with Chelsea, with the forward having previously scored against Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester United in earlier rounds.
“It’s not been be design,” Omidiora acknowledged, “it’s been due to injuries to the likes of James Maddison and Harvey Barnes as well. This forced Rodgers to play him in pairing along with Vardy.
“We know from Iheanacho’s progress in the youth ranks of Nigeria that he plays better with someone else who can go in behind the centre-backs.
“The improvement has been surprising, as I didn’t see him scoring so many goals.”