Lokosa's goalscoring heroics must pique Rohr's interest

Junior Lokosa of Kano Pillars LMC Media

There is still just under half a season of football to go, but Kano Pillars striker Junior Lokosa has already helped himself to a first-time record.

The 24-year-old's brace against Heartland made him the first player in Nigerian top-flight league history to score 16 goals by the halfway point.

To put that number in perspective, Ishaya Jatau, who held the Nigerian league scoring record for 19 years, did so with a 17-goal haul in 1990.

Over the last nine years, the league's scoring record has come under assault, equalled and broken four different times. Lokosa's marksmanship has now put him on course to make it five.

Akarandut Orok was first to take a bite at it, equalling the record in 2009, accompanied by plenty of fanfare.

Orok barely had time to celebrate his achievement when it was surpassed by Ahmed Musa a year later. Musa's move to Europe the next season opened the door to Jude Aneke, who obliterated it by hitting the 20-goal mark for the first time ever in Nigeria's top flight.

After nearly two decades of waiting to touch 17 goals, league strikers seemed on a mission to break the scoring record, but it still took four years before Aneke's record fell.

Enyimba's Mfon Udoh rattled off 23 goals in 2014 for what seemed to be a near-insurmountable mark.

Over the last three years, Only Anthony Okpotu's 19-goal tally last season came close. Now, one game into the second round of the season, the record is once again mortally imperilled.

Lokosa has been in blazing form, opening the season with 10 goals in 10. At his current strikerate, he is well on course to be the first player to hit the 30-goal mark.

That would be a remarkable achievement for a player who was playing third-tier football with First Bank just last season, but it would certainly be no fluke.

Prior to making the step up to Pillars, Lokosa scored eight goals for First Bank in the first half of the season while playing in the Nationwide League One, Nigeria's third division. He then added another seven for Pillars for a total of 15 goals.

He has simply carried on from where stopped, but the forward insists he has not set a goals target.

"I have refused to set goals target because I don't want to put myself under any form of pressure," he told the Daily Trust."

"My prayer is for God to keep supplying the goals for me. I know that as long as I keep working hard, the goals will continue to come.

"At the end of the season, we shall how it will be. I am not going to bring pressure on myself."

This humility is what sets the striker apart despite his ruthless streak on the field. It is also part of what should earn him a place in Nigeria's 35-man provisional World Cup squad.

With 16 goals, Lokosa is Nigeria's highest goalscorer so far this season. If he was scoring those goals in any other league - even in Africa - he would be called up to the national team.

An invite to Lokosa would not only be reward for hard word and efficiency, but would also show respect for the country's signature domestic competition.

Admittedly, the forward lacks experience, but a call-up does not immediately transfer to a seat on the plane to Russia, and he would definitely benefit from training with established internationals.

Unlike previous league stars, Lokosa says he is not in a hurry to leave for Europe, which should be good news for league organisers and fans if he can maintain his consistency.

This is particularly the case because players leave for one or both of two reasons: better remuneration or a quick way to get international call ups.

A place on the national team squad would be well-earned validation for the NPFL, but more importantly, it would be merited reward for handwork and productivity while providing an additional spur for the forward to aspire to that 30-goal mark.

It would be a win-win all around.