Mixed reactions trail Ighalo’s Eagles return


Mixed reactions have trailed the decision of Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr to hand a national team recall to striker Odion Ighalo, who retired from international football in 2019.

Rohr included Ighalo in his 24-man squad for the 2022 World Cup qualifying games against Liberia and Cape Verde later this month.

Ighalo had retired from international duty after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, where he emerged the top scorer as the Eagles finished in third-place.

The Saudi Arabia-based forward, while announcing his retirement on his Instagram page on July 20, 2019, said he wanted to “concentrate on club football and give the younger players a chance to learn and grow.”

Many, who questioned Rohr’s decision to bring back the forward, said the move would prevent the team’s young strikers from growing, with the returning forward taking their place.

Ogor Samuel said on Twitter that the move was not a step in the right direction.

“Odion is a great footballer, who has made his mark in Africa but bringing him back when we have young strikers scoring for fun all over Europe is not a step in the right direction. We need to groom the young ones into matured players,” he tweeted.

Another Twitter user, Precious Oletu, said Rohr’s desire to bring back Ighalo showed the coach lacked the ability to manage the Eagles.

“I hope Odion continues to play for the Super Eagles forever. If a manager cannot make do with what he has at his disposal and keeps going back to retired players, then, it puts a question mark on his ability. How can you miss Ighalo when you have Victor (Osimhen), Kelechi (Iheanacho), (Taiwo) Awoniyi and more,” he tweeted.

Seunara Adedira added, “Rohr has a knack for downplaying his team’s maturity. He referred to these lads as neophytes at the last World Cup. Curiously years later, they still are, ostensibly. Ighalo will do well to decline. The butterfly effects are totally avoidable.”

Many who supported Ighalo’s return however said his experience would help the team at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

“Ighalo is a striker Rohr has relied on so well in the past and he delivered. As a manager, if that player becomes available for a tournament like this, you accept the offer, especially for someone who won the golden boot just two years ago,” @timmy_leyin tweeted.

Isaiah Kalu also added that the loss to Central African Republic in Lagos, also showed that the team lacked depth.

“There is nothing wrong in having some years of experience in the dressing room to help the younger ones. Anyway, everyone has an opinion. But recently following some injuries, we struggled against the Central African Republic,” he tweeted.

Jidekoma Anuforom added, “I don’t blame Rohr one bit, Ighalo has always thrived in the national team and Rohr hasn’t hidden the fact that he has been trying to convince him to rescind his 2019 retirement decision.” (Punch)

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