Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has left the door open for the possible return to the national team of retired Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo, following his recent move to Saudi Arabia topflight side Al Shabab.
Similarly, the Franco-German tactician has ruled out the invitation of new players to the team ahead of the upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers next month against Benin Republic and Lesotho.
The 31-year-old former Manchester United loanee Ighalo quit international football shortly after helping Nigeria finish third at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, emerging the competitions top scorer with 5 goals.
Earlier this month, the former Udinese and Granada goal poacher joined Al Shabab on a two-and-half-year deal from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, after spending a year on loan at Manchester United.
Speaking to Super Eagles TV, Rohr disclosed that Ighalo, who scored 16 goals for Nigeria in 35 appearances, would be invited to the team, provided he is playing regularly in Saudi Arabia and remains willing to come out of international retirement.
“At first, I’m very happy that he (Ighalo) could make a good contract,” Rohr said of the former Watford forward. “You know he is more than 30 already and he has to think of the time after football. But he is still very fit and he is playing regularly in his new club Al Shabab. It’s a big club in Saudi Arabia.
“There is no reason not to take him in the Super Eagles if he is doing well. The question is ‘does he want to come back?’ We hope so, because he is an experienced player. We have a young team, and he can be useful to his partners – strikers, to help their clubs and come back and score goals with us, of course.
“We are waiting for that, but at first, he has to play now.”
The former Burkina Faso and Gabon coach described reports of invitation of new players to the team ahead of the last two AFCON qualifiers next month against Benin and Lesotho as ‘fake news’.
Last week, the Nigeria media was awash with reports that FIFA has cleared 8 players, including Fulham’s Ademola Lookman and Tosin Adarabioyo, to play for the Super Eagles after representing other countries at youth level.
Rohr stated that it is not the ‘best moment’ to invite new players to the Super Eagles ahead of next month qualifiers.
He said: “I saw a list the other day in the media which was fake news.
“For the moment, we have our players and it’s not the best moment to bring in new players when you only have one or two training sessions to prepare for a match. When you come to a team for the first time, you need a little time to adapt and to take your place in the group.
“So, I hope that we can find better players, but we already have good players.”