Former Nigeria goalkeeper Peter Rufai has backed the return of striker Odion Ighalo to the Super Eagles over two years after the 32-year-old retired from international football.
The former Manchester United and Watford forward, who now plays for Saudi Arabia side Al Shabab, started as Nigeria drew 1-1 with Cape Verde in a Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying game in Lagos on Tuesday – a result that propelled Gernot Rohr’s side to the final qualifying round of the global soccer fiesta.
Speaking exclusively to www.busybuddiesng.com, the former Super Eagles captain Rufai described Ighalo’s return as a boost to the team.
“(Odion) Ighalo returning to the Super Eagles of Nigeria is a boost to the team,” Rufai stated. “We cannot take that away from him.
“His personality, his ability, we all know who the deadly striker is. I call him a ‘deadly striker’ because he is someone that, if he take you one-on-one, advantage is for Ighalo because of his ability to take on any defence or any defender in general.”
If properly deployed in the team by the Rohr-led technical crew, the former Deportivo La Coruna shot stopper Rufai believes Ighalo, who finished as top scorer at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt with 5 goals before announcing retirement from the team, will add more value to the Super Eagles attack despite the presence of younger strikers like Victor Osimhen, Taiwo Awoniyi and others.
“Everything depends on the tactical formation the technical crew is applying to the upcoming matches for the Super Eagles,” he opined.
“So, based on the technical department’s principle of how they want to approach the upcoming matches, Ighalo’s presence could be or is important to the squad, notwithstanding the present players we have, who are really making waves in European football or across the world, like taiwo Awoniyi, Victor Osimhen and the rest of others.
“So, Ighalo’s presence, no doubt, is a plus for the Super Eagles.”