Odion Ighalo: Ex-Nigeria striker not rushing talks over Super Eagles return

7 months ago 3144
Odion Ighalo in action for NigeriaOdion Ighalo netted five goals as Nigeria finished third at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019

Former Nigeria and Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo says he is not rushing to come out of international retirement, but confirmed talks are 'ongoing' about his return.

Both Rohr and Nigeria Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick have publicly called for his return ahead of the country's upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

"Talks have been going on for a while now, and I respect the coach and the NFF president," Ighalo, who is now playing for Al-Shabab in Saudi Arabia, told BBC Sport Africa.

"But it's still an ongoing talk and it's not something I have to rush."

Victor Osimhen has filled the void left by Ighalo's departure as the Napoli striker emerged as joint-top scorer with five goals in qualifying for the 2021 Nations Cup.

But Ighalo's recent club form has prompted Rohr to consider a call-up, while Pinnick reiterates the need for his experience to "combine with our energetic youthful Osimhen, (Paul) Onuachu, Kelechi (Iheanacho) et al".

Death threats despite scoring goals

The decision to bring back Ighalo, who has eight goals in nine matches for Al-Shabab this season, has led to a public backlash from fans on local radio and social media.

"Osimhen is still is our number one striker," Rohr said. "But if Ighalo will come back, his maturity and experience will help Osimhen, the others and our team."

Ighalo captained Nigeria at the Under-20 World Cup in 2009 but then had a six-year wait for his senior debut, which came in a friendly at home against Uganda in Uyo.

The player endured death threats aimed at his family after failing to score at the 2018 World Cup as the Super Eagles failed to progress from their group.

But he produced seven goals to finish top scorer in the 2019 Nations Cup qualifying, beforehis five goals and one assist helped Nigeria finish third at the tournament in Egypt.

Ighalo only made two tournament appearances for the west African nation, yet his 16 international goals rank him among the country's top six scorers.

Nigeria face Liberia and Cape Verde next month in their final two Group C matches in World Cup qualifying, with just the group winners progressing to the play-off round.

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