One of the stars of the opening night of UEFA Europa League second qualifying round action, AS Trenčín's teenage winger Moses Simon is being tipped for big things.
FK Vojvodina encountered the skilful 19-year-old at his best last Thursday as he scored a 40-minute hat-trick in a 4-0 first-leg victory − Trenčín's biggest in UEFA competition − for last season's Slovakian Superliga runners-up. Not bad on your European debut. "The power of God helped me deliver this performance," said Simon. "I am very happy we won the game."
The Nigerian's treble continued a rich vein of form that began in March, shortly after he agreed a three-year deal with Trenčín, a club owned by former AFC Ajax and Netherlands player Tschen La Ling. Those links with the Amsterdam giants helped Trenčín secure the services of Simon, who scored for Ajax in a pre-season friendly versus De Graafschap a year ago only for the Dutch side to decide against signing him.
Simon has registered in five successive appearances, including the final three league games of last term, and has scored 11 goals in 16 games in all competitions for Martin Ševela's team. "He is an excellent player," said Ševela. "His three goals were presents for our fans.
"Of course, as a coach, I would like to have him for a long time, but if he decides to change clubs at some point we won't stop him. It's a pleasure have him in our team. For sure, he has outgrown the Slovakian league already."
Simon is not the first Nigerian to attract scouts to Trencin, a city near Slovakia's western border with the Czech Republic. Twelve months ago, Fanendo Adi scored two hat-tricks in his first three league outings of the campaign and was on target twice against IFK Göteborg to inspire Trenčín into the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League, their best continental run then ended by FC Astra Giurgiu.
Adi was soon heading to FC København, playing in the UEFA Champions League against Juventus and Real Madrid CF, and is now turning out for Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Portland Timbers.
Simon's exploits, meanwhile, have all but booked Trenčín an attractive tie against European debutants Hull City. "Before that we have to overcome Vojvodina, but for our Slovak players it could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play against a team from the [English] Premier League," said Ševela.
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