SEVERAL members of the Super eagles have objected to manager Gernot Rohr’s plans to bring striker Odion Ighalo out of retirement for the team’s forthcoming African Nations Cup qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho later this month.
On March 27, the Super Eagles travel to Porto Novo to face the Squirrels of Benin and then on March 30 will host their final game at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos against the Crocodiles of Lesotho. Coach Rohr has already submitted his list of invitees to the Nigerian Football Federation and it is believed that he was pressing for Ighalo to return for the matches.
Currently 31, Ighalo, who retired from international football after the 2019 African Cup of Nations, is currently playing for Al Shabab in Saudi Arabia after spending a year in England with Manchester United. According to the striker, Coach Rohr has asked him to return but he wants to give the matter due consideration before deciding on whether to come back or not.
Ighalo said: “I have been approached by the coach but I haven’t decided yet whether this is a path I want to follow again. We’ve been talking about it for a while and hopefully soon I will make that decision as I need to decide because I have huge respect for my country and the coach, so it’s only fair to let people know where you stand.”
However, some of the senior players in the team, said it is unfair to drag players back out of retirement and it may disrupt the harmony of the team. According to the player, it is also setting a bad precedent, which the coach should want to avoid.
He added: “When players retire from international football, they should be left alone. Mikel came to the African Cup of Nation’s after a year’s absence from the team and was most times used on the bench, which he was not happy about.
Another player added: “Look at the young boys doing well in mainstream Europe. I guess they are unhappy with the comments of the coach because some will feel it is their time to stake a claim and recalling Ighalo is not fair to them.
“It could bring out division in the team, so I expect the coach to give players doing well in Europe a chance to represent Nigeria. Ighalo’s time is up, so let the new era begin.”
Among the Nigerian targetmen playing in mainstream European leagues are Victor Osimhen of Napoli in Italy, Josh Maja at English Premier League side Fulham, Paul Onuachu at Genk in Belgium and Taiwo Awoniyi of Union Berlin in Die Bundesliga. Apart from Osimhen who is out injured, all the others are in fine form.