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Nigeria boss explains Odion Ighalo snub

Odion Ighalo, Gernot Rohr
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Despite the Super Eagles’ struggles to score from normal play, Odion Ighalo was a no-show for his first game back.

Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr has explained that he didn’t play Odion Ighalo against Liberia due to the striker’s late arrival.

The former Manchester United star took no part in Nigeria’s World Cup qualifier in Liberia on Saturday after coming out of international retirement to represent the Super Eagles for the first time since 2019.

In his absence, Victor Osimhen and Ahmed Musa scored a penalty each to seal a crucial 2-0 win.

“We are happy to have him back,” Rohr told reporters of Ighalo’s absence. “He only arrived on Thursday, that is why he couldn’t take part in this match. I hope that in the next match on Tuesday, he will be able to help us much more.”

Why did Rohr recall the striker?

Rohr recalled the 32-year-old for his experience to help out his young attackers.

“The reason we asked Ighalo to come back is that we have such a young team,” said the Nigeria boss. “They are very young 22, 23, 21. Our strikers are all very young.

“[Chidera] Ejuke is coming now, [Samuel] Chukwueze is coming back from injury. Everybody is young, we need somebody to help them with his experience in the striker position and he is a good goalscorer we know it.”

Ighalo now hopes to make his first appearance for Nigeria in two years in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde.