Super Eagles striker Odion Ighalo says his increased confidence level is behind his recent goalscoring spurt for the Super Eagles.
The striker is currently enjoying his richest vein of form in front of goal for the Super Eagles and came off the bench to score Nigeria’s winner in their opening game against Burundi on Wednesday in the opening Group B of the 2019 AFCON in Egypt.
That strike, a lovely curling shot in the 77th minute of the game, was the eighth in his last seven matches for the Eagles and brought his total to twelve goals in twenty-eight caps for the national team.
Prior to this purple patch for the national team, Ighalo who plies his trade in China with Shanghai Shenhua had suffered a torrid time in front of goal and went over a year without scoring for the Eagles since he netted against Cameroon in a 2018 World Cup qualification match in September of 2017.
He was guilty of a particularly bad miss against Argentina at the World Cup in a match which the Super Eagles lost 2-1 to crash out of the Mundial in Russia when a draw would have secured them qualification to the Round of 16.
That miss brought a barrage of virulent criticism on the 30-year old former Watford striker with many fans calling for him to never play for the national team again. Eagles coach Gernot Rohr, however, kept faith with Ighalo and the striker duly repaid his coach’s trust with seven goals including a hattrick against Libya in his first game in Nigeria since the 2018 World Cup to emerge Africa’s top scorer in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers.
He was, however, surprisingly relegated to the bench for the Eagles’ opener against AFCON debutants Burundi but still scored the winner at the Alexandria Stadium after he had come in for Paul Onuachu who Rohr had selected to lead the line against The Swallows.
Revealing that he never changed his normal routine during his long spell without a goal for the national team during an exclusive interview with busybuddiesng.com at the Helnan Palestine Hotel base of the team in Alexandria, Ighalo said his form in front of goal for the Super Eagles has been fueled by a surge in confidence from scoring regularly.
“Well, I’ll say the same thing I was doing before [when I wasn’t scoring] is the same thing I’m still doing now,” he told busybuddiesng.com.
“I’ll say now there’s more confidence because as a striker when you score goals you build your confidence and I’m more relaxed and not under any pressure to prove to anybody wrong or prove anything to anybody, I just keep giving my best try to score and help my team to win games.”