Odion Ighalo: should fans be delighted if he returns to the Super Eagles?
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has left the door ajar for the possible return of Odion Ighalo to the national team if the former Manchester United man elects to come out of international retirement.
After emerging as the highest goals scorer in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, Ighalo announced his retirement from the Super Eagles to focus on his club career. In his absence, Napoli's Victor Osimhen has taken over the goals scoring batton and has hit the ground running with no less than 5 goals from at least 10 international matches thus far.
With a glut of other striking options now available to the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr has however indicated that he will not hesitate to call on tried and tested Ighalo.
"There’s no reason not to take (Ighalo) if he’s doing well. The question is if he wants to come back,” Rohr told the media recently.
So, Should Ighalo Return?
As a human being, there are just some people you like to surround yourself with. There are some people who give positive vibes when they are around to the point that you will go to any length having them around.
My sense is that Rohr likes having Ighalo around. The former Manchester United man is a key member of Rohr’s innermost Super Eagles circle. His retirement was something that the aging German tactician tried to discourage but nonetheless respected and reluctantly accepted.
Crucially though, Ighalo cited lengthy and tiring travel arrangements from his then-base in China as a core causation in calling time on this career with Nigeria.
That – for me – provided a back door possibility to a return to the Super Eagles for Ighalo (if the travel factor is eliminated).
Ighalo has never really been my cup of tea particularly. But if he still has fire in his belly to return to serve his fatherland, Rohr is more than willing to fuel that fire.
For all the love that Rohr has for Ighalo, it is reassuring to me that he never shies away from benching the former Watford man if he feels the need to.
Although Ighalo emerged as the highest goals scorer in the 2019 Afcon qualifiers, Rohr still surprisingly relegated him to the bench for Onuachu when the tournament proper commenced. Had Onuachu’s star shone, then it is conceivable to suggest that Ighalo would not have seen as much action as he did in that tournament.
In the eyes of Rohr, young Victor Osimhen was not ready to shoulder huge responsibilities in the 2019 Afcon hence why he stuck with Ighalo (who by and large delivered the goods).
Backtrack to 2018 and Rohr again dropped Ighalo just after 1 world cup match for Iheanacho (who was atrocious in the last game against Argentina leading to Ighalo’s recall and the infamous cataclysmic miss)
If Ighalo rescinds in resignation then there will be a place for him in Rohr’s squad – but not necessarily his starting 11 if precedence is anything to go by.
I have seen enough of Ighalo in Super Eagles colours. I am grateful for all of his contributions however I am keen to see the contributions of others.
Josh Maja, Taiwo Awoniyi, Sadiq Umar, Terem Moffi, Ike Ugbo and Cyriel Dessers are just some of the players I am gleefully looking forward to seeing in action into the future.
But, Rohr is the Gaffer; if Ighalo is his man, I will have to respect it and live with it.
But, choosing Ighalo at the expense of other younger more vibrant options
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might leave a sour taste in the tongue of Super Eagles fans.