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Ighalo’s Second Coming Raises Dust Amid Super Eagles Crucial World Cup Qualifiers

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The return of retired Super Eagles forward, Odion Ighalo back into the team for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Liberia and Cape Verde is presently generating heated debate and reactions from football lovers around the country.

Recall that on Monday, Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr named Ighalo in the 22-man squad that was released for the crucial qualifiers few weeks after the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick had hinted of his possible recall to the senior national team.

Interestingly, the last time the former Watford striker played for Nigeria was at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, where the team won bronze after defeating Tunisia 1-0 in the Third-place match.

Few weeks after the tournament, Ighalo announced his retirement in a bid to focus on club football. Before his retirement, he scored 16 goals in 35 games for the Super Eagles.

No doubt, Ighalo has been enjoying a good run of form in Saudi Arabia where he plays for Al Shabab, who are presently second on the log in the Pro-League, two points behind table-toppers Al-Ittihad.

Rohr pointed out that he wants the Al Shabab striker because the Super Eagles badly needs his leadership qualities with so many young strikers in the current squad, and has labeled Ighalo a ‘great player’. Ighalo is proving that age is just a number as he is still going strong at the age of 32, scoring eight goals in nine matches in the new Saudi Pro League season.

However, he has not fully made up his mind to come out of retirement despite the fact that his name has been listed for the qualifiers.

Though many wonder why Ighalo is being ‘pressured ‘ for a return to the national team despite having the likes of Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, Paul Onuachu, Taiwo Awoniyi, Terem Moffi and Sadiq Umar amongst others, the NFF President feels it is a move in the right direction.

In a chat with Thepledge, former Nigerian striker, Jonathan Akpoborie believes the invitation of Ighalo to the Super Eagles will be Rohr’s biggest mistake.

Akpoborie said that the German tactician should have stuck with his main strikers such as Osimhen, Onuachu, Iheanacho, Onyekuru, Awoniyi and others to execute the World Cup qualifiers.

“This may just be Rohr’s biggest mistake as coach of the Super Eagles. I really don’t know why Ighalo should be invited to the Super Eagles after quitting the senior national team in 2019.

“This is not the best way to boost the morale of the young strikers that qualified the team for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations even without Ighalo. I am just not happy with the whole situation and I will feel bad if he succumb to NFF President’ Amaju Pinnick’s pressure.”

In the same vein, former Nigerian forward, Victor Ikpeba also kicked against the return of Odion Ighalo to the Super Eagles squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Liberia and Cape Verde respectively.

“I don’t really like the invitation of Ighalo to the Super Eagles. I want to believe that the coach knows why they have recalled him to the team even when he has not given any response so far.

“Well, it could be mind games. However, the return of Alex Iwobi to the Super Eagles will provide the necessary assist for him.”

Also, former Super Eagles midfielder, Mutiu Adepoju also faulted the decision to recall the ex-Man United striker.

He said: “I like Ighalo as a player and he is a very good striker. He retired from the Super Eagles about two years ago and I believe we presently have strikers that are good enough in the team. Well I don’t know the reason for his recall. We have Osimhen that is scoring very well in his club, we have Kelechi Iheanacho, Awoniyi and so many of them but what I’m saying is just my opinion.

“If we have players! Who are doing very well and scoring goals in their clubs, do we still have to recall Ighalo? It’s just my opinion.”

Taking a different perspective from other ex-internationals, former Eagles goalkeeper, Ike Shorunmu, opined that the coach wants the best for the team, with the recall of Ighalo.

“The coach wants the best for the country and he if says he wants Ighalo, as long as he gives us result, it is his choice,” Shorunmu said.

It is yet to be seen if the recall of Ighalo will be a blessing in disguise to the Super Eagles or will be a disaster especially as the team seek to secure a ticket to the last qualifying stage in order to book a ticket to Qatar 2022.

Will Ighalo’s return distract the team? Will he score the decisive goals that will land the S’Eagles a ticket to their seventh world cup? Only time will tell.

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NFF Considers Appointing Eguavoen Permanent Super Eagles Coach

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The Nigeria Football Federation is considering the possibility of appointing Augustine Eguavoen permanent Super Eagles coach.

Eguavoen was named to the post last month in an interim capacity after the NFF fired former coach Gernot Rohr on the eve of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

The NFF later appointed Portuguese Jose Peseiro as the new head coach of the three-time African champions.

Peseiro is expected to take charge of the team after the AFCON finals in Cameroon.

Eguavoen put himself in the frame for the job after guiding the Super Eagles to three successive wins in Cameroon.

“He is not in Cameroon because we have not signed a contract with him yet,” a member of the NFF executive council who does not want to be named stated this.

“If he had signed a contract, he would have definitely been in Cameroon as planned.”

“We are managing the public trust. So we have to look at what the people want and we also know what we want as well,” added the official.

“What we all agree on is that we want the team to do well, to play good football, to make Nigerians happy and to win trophies.

“It doesn’t matter who the coach is, what matters is the objective. If that objective can be achieved with Eguavoen as we can see now, then why not?

“We removed Rohr because Nigerians were not happy with the play and we were not blind to see that we were not going in the right direction the way we were playing.”

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“Sometimes I Forget That I Live With A god”, Annie Idibia Gushes As She Celebrates Husband, 2Baba

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Nollywood actress, Annie Idibia recently celebrated her ‘incredibly talented‘ husband and music icon, 2Baba Idibia.

Taking to her Instagram story while watching an old music video of the singer, the mother of two described her spouse as a god and a spirit.

She wrote,

“Celebrating this incredibly talented man! I feel I take him for granted. Sometimes I forget that I literally live with a god. I am grateful to the universe that I get to wake up next to this spirit every other day.”

A while back, Annie Idibia threw shade at someone who she said turned to an inspirational speaker – the mum of two took to her Instagram story to taunt the person and remind him/her that karma is real.

She wrote, “You don turn inspiration speaker now??? Hey hun…karma is REAL!”

Fans and well-wishers would note that Annie is starting her family year in a novel and inspiring way, based on how much part of 2021 was turbulent for them.

Ironically, she was largely the cause of the storm, as she accused him of still visiting Pero, the baby mama who has three children for him.

This became rowdy, although relative calm later reigned.

Yet, she closed the year with a N500m suit that Pero slammed against her.

After the Singer featured her as his vixen in new music video of his latest single ‘Smile’.

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Win AFCON 2021 Trophy, Get N102m, Otedola Promises Super Eagles

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Billionaire businessman Femi Otedola has promised the Super Eagles the equivalent of $250,000 in naira (N102,895,000) if they win the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

The Eagles will also receive N49,389,600 ($120,000) for the six goals they scored in the group stage of the ongoing continental showpiece, thanks to the Coalition Against COVID-19.

CACOVID, a private sector-led platform established to assist the government in combating Coronavirus in the country, praised the team for their performance at the AFCON and promised to reward the squad with the naira equivalent of $20,000 for each goal scored in the group stage.

The Eagles finished the group stage with six goals, which amounted to $120,000.

According to Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, who represented CACOVID during a visit to the team’s camp in Cameroon, their impressive group stage performance convinced CACOVID to increase the amount for every goal scored to $50,000 in the round of 16.

“I came with a message from the CACOVID. The CACOVID is the coalition of private-sector companies that was set up to fight COVID-19 in Nigeria and they have been happy with the performance of the team,” Emefiele said in a video posted by the Eagles media department on Thursday.

“During the meeting I had with the captain (Ahmed Musa) and the coach (Austin Eguavoen), I delivered a message from CACOVID and the message is that, for every goal that is scored, the team will receive the naira equivalent of $20,000 so far, you have earned for yourself the naira equivalent of $120,000.

“We held a CACOVID meeting again because everyone is overjoyed for everything you’ve done so far, CACOVID has asked me to raise the ante.

“From the round of 16, for every goal scored, you will earn for yourselves as a team the naira equivalent of $50,000.

“Also, Femi Otedola, who is a member of CACOVID, has asked me to tell you that if you lift the trophy, he has in the bank for you, the naira equivalent of $250,000. This is just the beginning and I can assure you that if you win your round of 16 games, another promise might be made,” Emefiele added.

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