Wrong move from Rohr, nothing good in Ighalo’s return

Wrong move from Rohr, nothing good in Ighalo’s return

Wrong move from Rohr, nothing good in Ighalo’s return

Wrong move from Rohr, nothing good in Ighalo’s return

By Sheriff Oladejo

At long last, the much rumoured and talked about news of Odion Jude Ighalo returning to the Super Eagles of Nigeria has now been confirmed. But unlike many cases of the return of a veteran- like Messi’s return to Argentina, this is a wrong move and one that should not have happened at all. I always wondered why Nigerias senior mens national team coach Gernot Rohr failed to lay to rest the idea of a potential return of Ighalo since his retirement from the national team.

Ighalo, unlike many other Nigerian legends, retired on a high with a podium finish at the 2019 Africa cup of nations. He even took home an individual award beating the likes of Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Riyad Mahrez to the top scorer’s award; an achievement that was no small feat considering the heavyweights that took part in that tournament. It was indeed the perfect ending for a player who did not always convince during his short time with the national team. But with 16 goals scored in just 35 appearances, a world cup run, one AFCON bronze title, and a golden boot to go with it, the send-off looked perfect.

It certainly looked perfect for many fans of the national team but they were not the ones in charge, the man in charge always craved the return of his old soldier, making it no secret at all, and he finally got his wish. Not even the emergence of the lovable Victor Osimhen who has shown that he is more than capable of leading the line for Nigeria for the next decade, he has 8 goals in 16 appearances for the super eagles already.

Already a fan favourite at Napoli after injury and Covid problems last season, he has scored nine goals already this term with some of them breathtaking and important match winners. “Senior man Kelz” is also at Leicester delivering goals and raking up the assists. Terem Moffi is tearing it up in Ligue 1 with Lorient and Taiwo Awoniyi can’t stop scoring in the Bundesliga with Union Berlin. Nigeria has this plethora of attacking options right now, the striking options would rival that of any footballing nation in the world right now, not just Africa. Yet, Coach Gernot Rohr has decided to give a call up to someone who already retired and plies his trade in the Saudi league.

The manner of the call-up makes this more amusing, the depth is there so why call up someone who was done with the national team? If Gernot Rohr wanted experience then he should have gone for the likes of Anthony Nwakaeme who is still delivering the goods for Trabzonspor in Turkey or Genk’s Paul Onuachu, who had a hand in 38 league goals last season; 33 goals and 5 assists. This call-up for Ighalo only serves to support the notion that the gaffer has favouritism and is too loyal to his players.

Ighalo’s return fails to ignite any real cheer because he has- more or less nothing- to offer the super eagles again. His sun is set already and it is time for the likes of Osimhen and Kelechi Iheanacho to be trusted with the future of the national team. This call up ensures that the doubts over Coach Gernot Rohr’s suitability for the super eagles remain. And At a time when pressing is as important as ever, what sense does it make to turn to Ighalo when the first aforementioned crop of players are 25 and under?

It doesn’t even pass the right message of trust to either of the younger players already with the national team or others working hard in the hope of a future call-up. How does he hope to convince the Nigerian people that he can steer this team in the right direction if he is turning back old pages? Coach Gernot Rohr will do well if he corrects this mistake and makes this a one-time error. A repeat should not happen especially with AFCON 2021 arriving next year in January. Old things have passed away and they should remain like that.

And as expected, the decision is proving to be very unpopular amongst fans of the super eagles especially on Twitter with varying criticisms leveled at the coach and even Odion Ighalo. Some have taken their shots on Ighalo as they question why he would accept a return to the national team but the blame rests more on the coach who has consistently tried to change the mind of a grown-up man that saw enough reasons to call it quits with the national team two years ago.

I fail to see any positives from this call-up and this only points to a spate of doom as the days go by. Not to talk of the potential ills and pitfalls that it could cause, how do you tell Victor Osimhen to drop to the bench for Ighalo again when he has not failed to deliver whenever called upon? How do you convince the other young players that they have a future with the national team? This decision is like one using his head to scatter a bee’s nest, it only spells trouble. The gaffer will do well if Odion Jude Ighalo’s name does not make a second appearance on the squad list next time.


some of our other editorials

Solskjaer and the modern concept of support

The one club man: Loyalty or indebtedness?

The return of Ighalo and the big shadow of doubt

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