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Time for the Super Eagles to move past Odion Ighalo for good

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Odion Ighalo

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The striking situation of the Super Eagles has again come under sharp focus, following recent comments by the head coach, Gernot Rohr.

 

Rohr has been openly flirting with the idea of recalling the retired Odion Ighalo, claiming that the forward could add some experience to the current strike force.

 

Rohr does have a point with the “experience” argument. Ighalo had been Nigeria’s premier striker up until his retirement in 2019, leading the line at the FIFA World Cup in Russia and at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

Gernot Rohr Odion Ighalo

However, is Ighalo’s “experience” really worth denying a more deserving player a spot in the squad? Do we really need to bring Ighalo out of retirement to tutor the likes of Victor Osimhen and Kelechi Iheanacho?

 

The argument would have been a lot more plausible if Ighalo was still playing for Manchester United, but he has since left the Premier League and now plies his trade for Al Shabab in Saudi Arabia.

 

Considering the quality of options available up front, it is very surprising that the manager is still mulling over a recall for Ighalo.

 

In Victor Osimhen, the Super Eagles have a ready-made No. 9. Yes, he is still only in his early 20s, but he is already playing at the highest level of European football. The Napoli striker has all the makings of a top-class international centre forward- pace, power and natural finishing ability.

 

He showed his potential in international football during the AFCON qualifying series, where he finished as joint top scorer with five goals.

 

He is already one of the favourites to become the leading scorer at the next Cup of Nations in Cameroon. No doubt many Eagles followers will be backing their man for the Golden Boot on betting sites in Nigeria.

 

This is the time to give Osimhen responsibility and confidence, and not uncertainty.

 

Nigerian fans will also be delighted by the goal-scoring form of Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho.

Kelechi Iheanacho

After excelling at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2013, where he was named player of the tournament, youth prodigy, Iheanacho was once the big bright hope of Nigerian football.

 

Unfortunately, he has not quite transformed his Golden Eaglets brilliance to the Super Eagles. However, recent evidence suggests that his Eagles’ fortunes may be about to change.

 

Iheanacho has been in sensational form for Leicester, earning the Premier League’s player of the month for March 2021. It is almost impossible to imagine a Super Eagles squad without Osimhen and Iheanacho. The striking options do not end there.

 

Gangling Genk forward, Paul Onuachu may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he has been painting the Belgian league with goals and has bagged a few important strikes for the Eagles.

 

Onuachu is behind Osimhen in the pecking order of Eagles’ forwards, but he definitely deserves a place in the squad. He brings good quality and diversity to the team, and even if he doesn’t start, he is a useful option coming off the bench.

 

The same arguments go for Simi Nwankwo, who has been banging in the goals for lowly Crotone in Serie A this season. Sadiq Umar and Terem Moffi are just a couple more names pushing for positions in the Eagles squad. With the options available to Gernot Rohr, one wonders why he is still considering the possibility of having Ighalo back in the Eagles fold.

 

Yes, Ighalo brings with him bags of experience, but will he make the team significantly better than it currently is? Unlikely.

 

It’s time for Rohr and the Eagles to move on.


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