2022 World Cup campaign: Eagles’ still need Ighalo – Kanu confesses
By EPHRAIM NWOSU
Nigeria legend, Nwankwo Kanu has backed erstwhile Watford goal poacher now with Shanghai Shenhua of China, Odion Ighalo to make a sensational return to the national team. Kanu argued during an exclusive conversation with Daylight in Owerri that Ighalo’s wealth of experience would be valuable to the national team ahead first round of the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers as well as the 2021 African Cup of Nations campaign.
The 30-year-old quit the national team after helping Nigeria win bronze medal at the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt. Amaju Pinnick, President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) recently stated he would have a chat with Ighalo to return from international wilderness.
“We have to respect Ighalo’s decision not to play again but If Pinnick’s words should be anything to go by, then I don’t see anything wrong with him, staging a return to the national team. For me, it’ll be a massive boost for the team because he is such a world class player with lots of quality,’’ the former Super Eagles captain advised.
“He is one of the players in the team with wealth of experience and if you ask me, experience is the key. We need him for the big games, we need all our top players if we hope to make our mark in African and world football. It’s good news that he wants to rejoin the team. If it happens let’s receive him with open arms.’’
Kanu however pointed out that Ighalo should be ready to fight for a spot in when he return to the team, stressing that he must prove himself.
“I think his services are still relevant in the team. This is because he will add quality as well as making the team more competitive. But that does not mean he would stroll into the team and get an automatic shirt. He must show a lot of motivation, he must show he is fit and hungry to play again because we have new kids on the block playing excellently well in his position now,” the one time Arsenal player noted.
The Ajegunle born striker announced his retirement from the Super Eagles, shortly after the 2019 African Cup of Nations. He first considered quitting the national team in the aftermath of Super Eagles’ group stage exit from the 2018 FIFA World Cup following barrage of criticisms by majority of Nigeria ball fans, but was prevailed on by head coach Gernot Rohr to have a change of mind. The forward silenced his critics by emerging the Nations Cup top scorer in Egypt with seven goals ahead of Burundi’s Fiston Abdou-Razak.