Ighalo Distraught Over Missing South Africa Clash

Nigeria Super Eagles forward Odion Ighalo has expressed dismay over missing the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 qualifier against South Africa on November 17.

The Changchun Yatai striker, who was replaced by Galatasaray forward Henry Onyekuru, is another serious injury casualty for coach Gernot Rohr’s side after losing first-choice goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, who was also been replaced by Enyimba goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai. Turkey-based midfielder Ogenyi Onazi is also out injured.

Ighalo was initially part of the 23-man squad invited for the match by Rohr until the hamstring injury he picked up in Changchun Yatai’s 2-2 home draw against Tianjin Quanjin on Wednesday, keeping him on the sidelines for four to five weeks.

The injury had forcefully ended his season with the Chinese Super League side after a scan was done on Thursday to ascertain the level of the injury.

Nigeria who top their group visit second-placed Bafana Bafana in a crucial Group E match at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg as they seek to seal qualification for the continental showpiece after their absence at the last two editions in 2015 and 2017.

Ighalo, who is the leading scorer in the AFCON qualifiers with six goals, told KweséESPN that he was upset about missing next week’s crucial qualifier against South Africa. He said he had plans for the game, adding that he wanted to ensure that the team got a win in South Africa.

Speaking to KweseESPN, Ighalo said: “I was devastated and sad throughout the night because I have planned for and was waiting for this game. We were all very upset that we lost that first game and everybody wants to play the game to make amends, but God knows best,”

“It is a very important game for us because we have missed two Nations Cups and we want this so bad. Also, we don’t want to lose to them again. I can’t travel right now, unfortunately. But I believe in the boys and I know that they will do the job there.”

The Eagles are on a revenge mission to Johannesburg having lost 2-0 in the first match of the qualifiers to the South Africans in Uyo last year. The Eagles only need a point from their next two games to reach next year’s finals in Cameroon, while Bafana Bafana need three to brighten their qualification chances.