Odion Ighalo: Al Shabab striker ends Nigeria retirement

Odion Ighalo - 234football

 

Odion Ighalo has reversed his retirement from international football and is set to play for Nigeria in this month’s 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.

The Al Shabab striker announced his retirement from the Nigeria team shortly after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, where Nigeria finished third.

However, he’s set to play for the team again, following his inclusion in Nigeria’s 23-man squad for upcoming matches against Liberia and Cape Verde.

Ighalo, 32, leads the goalscoring charts in the Saudi Professional League after netting nine goals in 10 matches, and Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr believes the former Watford man can help improve Nigeria’s play in the final third.

In the last 12 months, the Nigeria team have occasionally struggled in front of goal. They failed to score in an AFCON qualifying game at Sierra Leone. The team also fired blanks in two friendlies against neighbours Cameroon in June and last month’s World Cup qualifying fixture against Central African Republic at Teslim Balogun Stadium, which ended 1-0 in favour of Les Fauves.

After the embarrassing defeat, Rohr’s men rallied back to claim victory in the reverse leg thanks to first-half goals from Leon Balogun and Victor Osimhen — who have both been named in the squad for the Liberia and Cape Verde fixtures.

Torino defender Ola Aina, Brentford’s Frank Onyeka and Genk’s Paul Onuachu are also included.

However, Union Berlin’s Taiwo Awoniyi — who won a late call-up for last month’s ties — and Rangers right-back Calvin Bassey have been overlooked.

There’s also no place for Bordeaux winger Samuel Kalu, but out-of-form Karagumruk forward Ahmed Musa is in the squad.

Musa became the third player to reach a century of caps for Nigeria after he played in the 2-0 win over Central African Republic on October 10.

Nigeria top Group C of the World Cup Qualifiers, Africa zone with nine points — two clear of second-placed Cape Verde.

Rohr’s side will face Liberia at Stade Tangier, Morocco, before returning home to play Cape Verde at Teslim Balogun Stadium three days later.

Victories in the two matches will guarantee the three-time African champions top spot and a place in the play-offs.

 

The Squad

Goalkeepers
Maduka Okoye
Daniel Akpeyi
Francis Uzoho

Defenders
Ola Aina
Abdullahi Shehu
William Troost-Ekong
Leon Balogun
Jamilu Collins
Zaidu Sanusi
Kenneth Omeruo
Chidozie Awaziem
Kevin Akpoguma

Midfielders
Alex Iwobi
Joe Aribo
Kelechi Iheanacho
Wilfred Ndidi
Frank Onyeka

Forwards
Idiong Ighalo
Victor Osimhen
Moses Simon
Chidera Ejuke
Ahmed Musa
Samuel Chukwueze

 

Mfoniso Williams

Passionate Nigerian football writer who, for many years, has travelled across Nigeria to cover league games.

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