Jonathan Afolabi sparks Ireland under-21 comeback; Celtic starlet nets vs Wales
Jonathan Afolabi produced a morale-boosting moment yesterday as the Celtic youngster sparked a late revival for Republic of Ireland under-21s vs Wales.
Ireland were 1-0 down at the time in the friendly contest. With both sides failing to qualify for the under-21 European Championships, it was important they continued to find game-time with each other.
The match took place in Wales, with Celtic’s Afolabi and Luca Connell both taking part. The former is currently on loan at Dundee whilst the latter is away with Queen’s Park.
And for long spells yesterday it looked as though they were set for a nasty morale-drainer. Wales were ahead heading into the final 15 minutes, but Afolabi showed great movement and anticipation in the box to tap home a low cross from the right.
And that saw the Welsh cave in as Ireland produced a second from a resulting own goal. The win was a big boost for the Irish youngsters and the perfect way to bounce back from their Euro qualification disappointment.
Jonathan Afolabi nets first international goal with 21s; Celtic must keep tabs on him
It was a bigger moment for Afolabi yesterday than it was for fellow Celt Connell. His effort to equalise in Wales was his first for his country at under-21 level.
HIGHLIGHTS | Wales 1-2 Ireland 🇮🇪⚽️
All the goals from #IRLU21's comeback win over Wales ☘️👊
Jonathan Afolabi on target for the first time for the U21s#WEAREONE | #COYBIG | #WALIRL pic.twitter.com/qEBKDZ0cpA
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) March 26, 2021
So far this season at Dens Park, it’s fair to say he wouldn’t have had the return expected of him. He’s netted three goals in 16 appearances, and hasn’t started a game since January’s clash vs Arbroath [Transfermarkt]. These days, the likes of Jason Cummings is starting ahead of him regularly.
The idea in heading out this season would’ve been to receive regular game-time. Whilst he’s still getting more than he would’ve done at Parkhead, it hasn’t been enough. This goal for the 21s is hopefully the boost he needs to make an impression in the final few months of the season.
Celtic are, after all, going to have an opportunity next season when it comes to the centre-forward position. With Odsonne Edouard departing and all three of Celtic teammates struggling to impress, this year was an opportunity for Afolabi to put himself on show and suggest that he could’ve been a potential option.
The Neil Lennon signing of 2019 still hasn’t made a senior appearance for the Hoops. He has instead been through loan spells now with both Dunfermline and Dundee respectively. Neither of which have produced enough goals.
When he signed almost two years ago, Lennon stated that Jonathan was “on the cusp” of first-team action [Sky Sports]. Hopefully he can show why that observation was made in the final few months of the season.