The president of the Nigeria Football Federation Amaju Pinnick has defended the invitation of Odion Ighalo to the national team, saying his call-up is deserving and that the 32-year-old striker won’t make the kind of mistakes that younger strikers in the national team would make.
Ighalo received a call-up to the national team for Nigeria’s World Cup qualifying games against Liberia and Cape Verde this month. The re-call comes two years after he quit the Super Eagles after finishing as top scorer at the 2019 African Cup of Nations. The striker, who plays for Al Shabab in Saudi Arabia, is one of 24 players named by head coach Gernot Rohr.
However, in some quarters, questions were raised about the need for Ighalo, with some tagging the re-call as needless, given the array of attacking talents already in the national team.
Speaking with reporters after presenting the NFF’s budget for 2022, Pinnick defended the invitation, saying: “If you look at what is happening globally, there must be a smooth transition from your key striker to the upcoming strikers. We didn’t have that.
“There are a lot of things people need to also know – our players are young and energetic, they want to score, but they also make some small, small mistakes which, you’ll agree with me that, Ighalo will not make.”
Nigeria, who are top of their group, will take on Liberia on 13 November in Morocco before hosting Cape Verde at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, three days later.