Yira Sor at KRC Genk 2022/23: From the Czech Republic to a title race in Belgium – scout report
As the January transfer window opened, Belgian Pro League leaders Genk knew that to stay in this position and keep the momentum going, they likely needed to strengthen the squad. And strengthen they did, with one of the signings being 22-year-old Nigerian winger Yira Sor, who joined from Czech Republic side Slavia Praha for a relatively modest transfer fee of around €6.5 million.
While Sor has not slotted straight into the starting lineup for the Belgian side, he offers Vrancken some much-needed versatility off the bench, as well as a pacey option down the flanks that fits perfectly into the tactics that the Genk boss utilises. This tactical analysis and scout report will take a look at some of the strengths that the young Nigerian has in his skill set, as well as what he offers Wouter Vrancken at Genk.
The image above shows the 22-year-old Nigerian’s heat map this season, from both his time with Slavia Praha and Genk. Sor has normally been deployed as a right winger, but he does not play an inverted role, with him being right-footed and playing on the right. This prevents the 22-year-old from being able to cut inside on his preferred foot during the attacking phases of play.
However, Sor also enjoys drifting centrally, with him usually looking to drift inside from the right wing when in possession to get shots off or to contribute with his passing ability. This is partly down to the fact that, as previously mentioned, he does not play as an inverted winger, which prevents him from just cutting inside on his favoured foot and shooting at goal. This scout report will look at some of the strongest skills in Sor’s game and show just what he could bring to Wouter Vrancken’s attack at Genk.
This first section will take a look at Yira Sor’s shot selection, with the Nigerian forward consistently putting shots on target. In fact, through the majority of his senior career with both Slavia Praha and now Genk, Sor has averaged 2.55 shots per 90 minutes in his career, with just over 41% of his shots being on target. Though his shots on target could be higher, he still forces goalkeepers into saves about every other time he takes a shot.
The data viz above shows Yira Sor’s xG map from both this current season and the 2021/22 campaign. As we can see by the graphic, the Nigerian has slightly overperformed his expected goals over the past two seasons, with the majority of his shots occurring from inside the penalty box. This is able to help illustrate why he is able to get about half of his shots on target on average.
Sor is picky with his shot selection, with him not often being a forward who always looks for the incredible and attempts rash shots from distance. This section will now show a few examples of the shot selection that Yira Sor demonstrates.
The image above shows a good example of the type of shot selection that the 22-year-old winger displays pretty regularly. In this phase of play above, Sor receives possession during a quick Genk fast break after regaining possession in their own half. Sor is played the ball from a much deeper wide position, but uses his pace and acceleration to drive centrally and towards the penalty box. Though not shown in this example, the winger had multiple opportunities to shoot from outside the penalty box but chose to hold possession and wait for a better opportunity.
After driving centrally and towards the penalty box, he is then able to find some space inside the box near the penalty spot. Even though he is surrounded by four opposition defenders, Sor is able to get a rocket of a shot off before any of them are able to close him down. As a result, his shot is unsavable for the goalkeeper, with it ricocheting off the crossbar and into the back of the net.
The image above shows another example of Yira Sor’s shot selection as well as his composure in front of the net in certain shooting situations. In the phase of play above, Sor is the most advanced Slavia Praha attacker after receiving the ball near the midfield to help relieve the pressure on his defence. In what turned into an unexpected goalscoring moment, Sor was able to use a burst of acceleration to get the ball past the opposition defenders and burst into space.
As he bears down on goal and begins to slow down, this allows the LASK defender to catch up and get right on the back of the Nigerian winger. At the same time, the opposition goalkeeper also begins to come out of the goal to attempt to close down the angle that Sor has to shoot. Sor, however, is able to keep his composure and slots the ball under the on-rushing goalkeeper and into the back of the net to score for Slavia Praha.
This example is able to once again show Yira Sor’s shot selection, as he bided his time and found the right moment to score, even if it meant possibly being caught by the opposition defender.
The image above shows the final example looking at the shot selection of Yira Sor. In this phase of play above, Sor receives possession and drives towards the opposition’s penalty box, with him being the only Slavia Praha player in the final third. Once again, this image is able to show the composure that the Nigerian displays in these crucial moments. The opposition defender was able to get Sor off balance, with him hoping it would result in the winger either losing possession or sending the shot out of play and off target. Instead, Sor is able to get his shot off while losing his balance, with his ensuing off-balance shot nestling into the bottom corner.
As this section has shown, Yira Sor can be prolific in front of goal. With that being said, the important thing is that almost half of his attempted shots are on target. This is able to show that the Nigerian is very selective when it comes to his attempts on goal, putting more shots on frame as a result and creating more chances for teammates to jump on rebounds if the goalkeeper is to have an error.
This next section will look at the dribbling capabilities that Yira Sor possesses, and demonstrate why it is one of his biggest strengths that he possesses. In the last couple of seasons across all competitions, the 22-year-old is averaging 4.65 dribbles per 90 minutes, with a success rate of 50.4%.
A lot of Sor’s ability to beat defenders out wide comes from his blistering pace and initial burst of acceleration. This is not to say he will not beat defenders with skills and quick movement of the ball with his feet, but his initial burst of acceleration allows him to get past defenders and also make it very hard to be caught up to.
The image above shows a good example of the quick feet and dribbling that Yira Sor possesses in certain moments. In the phase of play above, the ball is currently in the air, with it coming towards the penalty box. Spotting the space, Sor is able to drift inside from the position he was occupying to just near the edge of the penalty box, in between the opposition defenders.
The Nigerian is able to control the ball as it comes down, taking an exquisite touch which allows him to control it and drive past the defenders into the penalty box. The defender sticks out a leg anticipating that he will be able to poke the ball away from Sor. However, the 22-year-old is able to use his quick feet to be able to get the ball past the defender before he sticks his leg in, winning a penalty for his side as a result.
The image above shows another example of the dribbling abilities of Yira Sor, and is a good illustration of his initial burst of acceleration, along with his overall pace to get past the opposition fullback and drive into the space to attack the ball. In this specific phase of play above, after receiving possession closer to midfield out wide, Sor was faced with the challenge of being in a 2v1 against two opposition defenders.
Instead of just trying to dribble at them, which would have likely resulted in Sor being dispossessed, he decided to send the ball past the defenders into the vacant space behind the opposition’s backline. The 22-year-old Nigerian winger then used his initial burst of acceleration, as well as his pace, to easily beat the defenders on the outside, winning the foot race and getting to the loose ball first. He is able to then get to the byline and drive into the box while in possession, resulting in a goalscoring chance for Slavia Praha.
As this section has shown, while Yira Sor is not the highest-output dribbler, he is able to use his initial burst of acceleration, as well as his overall pace, to his advantage when he utilises his dribbling. This will be a valuable skill set for Genk, as they already have the high-octane dribbling of both Mike Tresor and Joseph Paintsil in their side. At least for the time being, Sor offers Wouter Vrancken a dangerous option to bring off the bench later in matches, especially with the loss of Mika Godts to Ajax in the January transfer window.
As this tactical analysis piece has shown, Yira Sor comes to Genk with a handful of senior domestic and European experience already from the Czech Republic side Slavia Praha. While Sor may not get to the level high enough to be linked with the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City, moving to the Belgian league, and Genk in particular, was the perfect next step for the 22-year-old’s development.
He will surely continue to refine his game under Wouter Vrancken, as well as get stuck straight into a title race and potentially become the difference maker for Genk later on this season.