Several Nigerian attackers are making waves in some of Europe’s top leagues, and the Nigerian head coach is pleased to have a large pool to chose from
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has refused to slam the door shut on a possible return to the national team for former Manchester United forward Odion Ighalo while revealing that the senior team has enough exciting options to bolster the side’s attack.
Ighalo announced his retirement from the Super Eagles after leading the three-time African champions to a third-place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
The 31-year-old ended that tournament as the top-scorer after banging in five goals, including the winner in the bronze medal-deciding match.
But a temporary switch to Manchester United in January 2019 from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua forced Ighalo back into the limelight, raising the possibility of him making a return to the national team.
The ex-Watford ace ended his dreamy United adventure last month and has since signed for Saudi Arabian Pro League leaders Al-Shabab, making a winning debut at the weekend.
Talks of a recall to the national fold are expected to cool down after such a move, but Rohr is adamant the Nigerian forward remains part of his plans.
“Playing regularly in Saudi is not a reason to eliminate a good player from Super Eagles,” the one-time Gabon coach told NationSport.
A few Nigerian strikers are also causing quite a stir in Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, and Turkey. Taiwo Awoniyi, on loan from Liverpool, has smashed in five Bundesliga goals for Union Berlin, one fewer than the haul Terem Moffi has amassed for lowly Lorient in France’s Ligue 1.
Henry Onyekuru’s return to Turkish giants Galatasaray has yielded three goals in as many matches.
At the same time, Umar Sadiq – named the Segunda Division’s best player for January – has found the back of the net 13 times in all competitions for Almeria. Genk’s Paul Onuachu is the most prolific striker in the Belgium First Division A with 22 goals.
Rohr has expressed happiness over such an impressive lineup of Nigerian strikers.
And ahead of naming a squad for the forthcoming 2021 AFCON qualifiers, the Franco-German gaffer hinted that the in-form trio of Lorient’s Moffi, Union Berlin’s Awoniyi, and Almeria’s Sadiq has done enough to merit a call-up to the Super Eagles.
Rohr said: “Terem Moffi is doing well like Taiwo Awoniyi, Paul Onuachu, Umar Sadiq, Henry Onyekuru again…and others.
“We are looking in all directions.”
Next month, Nigeria play host to Lesotho and make the short trip to the Benin Republic in the final group games of the Afcon qualifying rounds.
A point from any of those two matches will guarantee a spot for the Super Eagles at Cameroon 2022.