Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr, has recalled Al Shabab striker, Odion Ighalo, to the Super Eagles ahead of next month’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Liberia and Cape Verde.
Speaking to Elegbete TV, Rohr confirmed long-retired striker Ighalo has been included in his 40-man provisional list for the qualifiers.
Rohr has never hidden his desire to see 32-year-old former Manchester United striker Ighalo return to the national team following his retirement in the aftermath of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Both men held exploratory talks last year about a return to the national team for Ighalo following his move to Manchester United, with the striker leaving the door open to a possible return in the future.
Nigeria Football Federation president, Amaju Pinnick, recently suggested Ighalo’s return to the national team was imminent and Rohr has now confirmed the development.
“Ighalo is a very important man, I hope he can come back. I put him on the 40-man provisional list for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, we are in touch. He’s doing really well at his club and he still has the ambition to help his country. We have so many good strikers like [Taiwo] Awoniyi, [Terem] Moffi, [Paul] Onuachu and [Victor] Osimhen, but we don’t have anyone like Ighalo,” Rohr told Elegbete TV.
“Ighalo is different. He’s a special player, he sees everything. Our team now misses maturity and experience and this is where he could help us, because we miss his leadership, his experience and the goals he scored. He was the top scorer in the last AFCON and the qualifiers. I think we have so many young players, but they could learn a lot from the side of such a good player.”
The news of Ighalo’s impending return has divided Super Eagles fans with a majority not sold on the idea. It remains to be seen the effect Ighalo’s return will have on the three-time African champions and what it means for young forwards Awoniyi and Moffi and established strikers Onuachu and Osimhen.
Ighalo scored 16 goals in 35 appearances between 2015 and 2019 for Nigeria and was top scorer at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt. He has scored eight goals in nine league games for his Saudi side this season.