Odion Ighalo was not in the squad in Nigeria’s 2-0 victory over Liberia at the weekend and Gernot Rohr has decided to explain why that happened.
Nigeria boasts a plethora of footballers scattered across Europe. Amongst them are strikers that have made a name for themselves. Some of these strikers have become household names in the leagues they play in. Names like Kelechis Iheanacho of Leicester City, Victor Osimhen (Napoli), Paul Onuachu (Genk), Emmanuel Dennis (Watford), Taiwo Awoniyi of Union Berlin and Simy Nwankwo (Salernitana) are in fine form this season.
It was with shock that Nigerians received the news of the invitation of Odion Ighalo despite the form of Nigeria’s young strikers. Worse still that despite the arrival of Ighalo to the team, Rohr deemed it fit not to feature him in the crucial World Cup qualifier against Liberia.
Odion Ighalo has landed!
He arrived today to join the Nigeria 🇳🇬 Super Eagles 🦅 team in Morocco.
He says it’s good to be back after more than 2 years away.
He last played for Nigeria at AFCON 2019. pic.twitter.com/eXO6XME2b3
— Mimi Fawaz (@MimosaFawaz) November 11, 2021
Gernot Rohr has taken a defensive stance following Ighalo’s no show for the game.
Rohr gives reasons for Ighalo
At the post-match conference, Rohr was questioned about Ighalo's absence amid the scoring problems the team still faces.
Rohr claimed that the 32-year-old striker did not return to the team because of its issues in front of goal. He blamed his absence from the game on his late arrival.
The Super Eagles are finding goals from open play hard to come by, and it is a worrying situation for their fans. In five matches, the team has averaged 1.2 goals from open-play, yet Rohr insists that Ighalo was not invited to fix the problem.
Rohr said Ighalo is in the team to impart his experience to the young lads. According to Rohr, the players are young, with ages ranging from 21 to 23. He highlighted Chukwueze’s return from injury and Ejuke breaking into the team. Rohr insists on Ighalo’s experience as something good for the team.
Super Eagles struggle to break down Liberia
The Super Eagles of Nigeria took on the Lone Star of Liberia on Saturday evening in their quest for a ticket to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar next year. As detailed in our match report, the game finished 2-0 in favour of the Nigerians. The result guaranteed Nigeria another vital three points, but the Super Eagles performance left a lot to be desired.
With an array of attacking talent, much more was expected of the team. Once again, the team had to rely on penalties to dispatch the less fancied Liberians.
The Super Eagles showed their difficulties in manufacturing goals from open play, a situation that fans find unsatisfactory.
Victor Osimhen opened the scoring in the 14th minute via a penalty after Kelechi Iheanacho was hacked down by the Liberian goalkeeper Boison Wynney De Souza. The second goal came at the death after Osimhen was brought down in the box by the goalkeeper. Ahmed Musa, who came on in the 87th for Iheanacho, sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to seal the game.
Despite the win, criticism has trailed the team, particularly the manager Gernot Rohr.
The Super Eagles next match is on Tuesday against the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde. The Super Eagles must avoid defeat to proceed to the final round of qualifiers.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 weeks ago