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Odion Ighalo: why do fans kick against him returning to the Super Eagles?

The truth of the matter is that many fans do not want to see in Super Eagles colours again because quite frankly, they are itching to see what the younger prospects (like Awoniyi and Co who are pulling up trees in club football) have to offer.

Also, many (including myself) were never really sold on Ighalo’s style of centre forward play even when he was red hot for the Super Eagles in the 2019 Afcon qualifiers and the Afcon proper.

I never really formed an emotional bond with how he dispenses his play as he left me with few quotable finishes despite his high numbers. But I still respect and value what he did more so in 2018/2019.

Regarding returning to the Super Eagles, the thinking is that this would stunt the national team development of young vibrant and vivacious strikers like Awoniyi, Umar, Moffi and maybe even Osimhen (as the need to substitute in-game for Ighalo would arise).

These younger strikers appear to play the sort of football that evokes a frisson of excitement. Their pace, dribbles, exuberance, unpredictability and drive blow fans away and help meet expectations of seeing a rapid fire brand of centre forward play.

Not that Ighalo doesn’t possess these qualities but in truth, fans have just seen enough of him and are eager to open the page to newer strikers with hunger and a sense of something to prove.

But, having listened to Rohr’s interview with the presenter at Elegbete radio station this week, I couldn’t help but notice the passion in which Rohr spoke of Ighalo. The German gaffer (still) holds Ighalo in high esteem and sees him as integral to what he still wants to achieve with Nigeria.

“[Victor] Osimhen is our No 1 striker, but there is none like Ighalo, he’s different, he’s a special player, he smells football. We have many young players who could learn a lot playing alongside such a great player, ” said coach Gernot Rohr.


I was blown away by that statement and the passionate tone in which Rohr expressed it. Because of that, it would not worry me in the slightest if Ighalo rescinds and returns to the Super Eagles.

Sadly, it will mean waiting a bit longer for other younger spry strikers to come through. However it will also mean that Rohr has his man; someone he is invested in and someone he passionately believes can make a difference in the dressing room and in the field of play.

I just wish Ighalo wouldn’t hum-and-haw on the matter. He should come out and make his position (and decision) crystal clear so we can move on to other matters.

It is true: younger strikers still have a lot to learn. Having a vastly experienced Ighalo around in the truly crunch moments might not be such a bad idea in Nigeria’s quest for greatness after all!

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