Can Stefano Okaka help stop Bari’s ship from sinking?

Having began the second half of the season rock bottom of Serie A, Bari are engulfed in a relegation scrap. The team that finished last season a comfortable tenth are now languishing at the foot of the table having recorded just three wins this campaign while already racking up eleven defeats. Five points from safety and boasting the worst goal difference in the league, is there any hope for i Biancorossi?
Last week’s game against fellow strugglers Lecce looked destined to end a 0-0 draw. However, the introduction of Stefano Okaka on 57th minute changed the game. The young forward had signed on loan from Roma only days before but settled into the game almost immediately and proved the match winner with just over ten minutes remaining. Having brought down Alessandro Gazzi’s through ball, Okaka spun away from his defender and buried his finish inside the near post to give his side a much-needed three points.
Bari are currently the lowest scoring side in the league with just 12 goals and current top scorer Barreto is the only player to have struck more than once this season. With the Brazilian currently out injured, the stage seems to be set for Okaka to really showcase his talent and prove himself. Having seen action from the bench fairly regularly under Luciano Spalletti, Okaka has fallen down the pecking order under Claudio Ranieri and will be keen to improve on his loan spell at Fulham last season.
The young forward is an excellent signing, as he appears to possess all the qualities currently lacking from the Bari front line. His sheer athleticism makes him a handful for any defence as he has both the pace to beat his man and the strength to hold up the play. His goal against Lecce demonstrated how dangerous he is in the box and despite failing to find the net against Bologna on Sunday he was a nuisance all game and looked by far the most likely player to score for Bari.
While they may be struggling for goals, Bari certainly do not lack ability in attack. Edgar Alvarez is always an outlet on the wing and the eventual return of Sergio Almiron from injury should add more creativity to the midfield. Should Okaka continue to perform, there is no reason that he should not keep his place alongside Barreto when the Brazilian returns to action.
While Okaka has never managed to notch more than a single goal in a Serie A season, this campaign looks set to change that statistic. At 21, the forward has had more than enough time to develop on the sidelines at Roma and will now be relishing his chance to really make a name for himself. Though his goals alone will not keep Bari in Serie A, should Okaka make double figures by the end of the season, they will certainly fight to the very end to survive.

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