Odion Ighalo has finally joined the Super Eagles camp in Tangier, confirming that he has indeed rescinded his decision to retire from the national team two years after initially hanging his international boots.
The 32-year-old first called time on the Super Eagles in 2019, but was however, named in Gernot Rohr’s squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Liberia and Cape Verde following talks between both parties.
He’d finished as the top scorer at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt with five goals as Nigeria claimed a third-place finish and boasted an impressive 16 goals in 35 international caps at the time.
However, his failure to show up after the Eagles’ camp opened on Monday led to speculation he was conflicted about making a return but that has been laid to rest after he made his long-awaited return on Thursday.
His recall sparked passionate reactions from fans and observers with many condemning Rohr’s decision which meant younger, in-form strikers such as Taiwo Awoniyi, Emmanuel Dennis and Terem Moffi missed out.
There were also concerns Ighalo’s return would unbalance the squad and fears that Victor Osimhen, Nigeria’s first choice striker in his absence, could be adversely affected.
Osimhen has, however, dismissed the fears, describing the Al-Shabab striker as an “elder brother” whom he couldn’t wait to welcome back with “open hands”.
Speaking to NFF media following his arrival in camp, a clearly excited Ighalo couldn’t hide his delight at being back in the national fold after two years.
“Well, I’m happy to be back,” he said. “It’s been two years plus and it’s good to see some of the guys.
“I’ve seen [William Troost-Ekong], my strongman so, hopefully, I would see the other guys later.”
Ighalo is likely to make his second debut against Liberia at the Grand Stade de Tanger in Morocco on Saturday before travelling with the team to play the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in Lagos three days later.
Nigeria lead the group with nine points, two more than Cape Verde and need four points from their final two games to seal the sole ticket to the final, two-legged qualifying round next March.