WCQ Preview: Nigeria, Ghana Renew Rivalry For A Place In Qatar

Nigeria and Ghana share an eternal rivalry stretching beyond football.

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will battle Ghana for a place at the 2022 World Cup, renewing a long history of rivalry dating back several decades.

The rivalry between the West Africans stretches beyond sports. Both nations pride themselves as the best maker of jollof rice, the red and spicy cuisine. While the banters and debates over jollof rice would not be ending soon, at least one of the countries will be absent at the global showpiece later in the year.

Nigeria travel to Ghana for the first leg of the double-header as the Super Eagles seek to banish the disappointments of a shocking exit from the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in February.

The 1994 continental champions were eliminated by Tunisia in the Round of 16 despite an impressive start to the tournament. They had won all three group games –  the only team to do so – but in an anti-climax, slumped to the Carthage Eagles who struggled to finish as one of the third-best placed countries.

READ ALSO: Super Eagles Arrive In Ghana Ahead Of Crunch Tie

Nigeria Team News And Key Men

Although Nigeria went to the AFCON missing top players like Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and the experienced Odion Ighalo, barring the absence of influential midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi, the coaching crew has a full complement of players to pick from.

Ademola Lookman’s invitation is also expected to boost the attacking options for the three-time AFCON winners.  The Leicester City winger only recently switched nationality to Nigeria after playing for England at age-grade levels.

Rangers Leon Balogun and Dennis Emmanuel of Watford are also back on the team after they missed the AFCON. Former Arsenal star Alex Iwobi is suspended. Goalkeeper Maduka Okoye has been ruled out due to illness and was replaced by John Noble.

The continental powerhouse made it to the playoffs after topping a group that included Cape Verde, needing just a draw in their last game to book a date with Ghana. And following the AFCON ouster, Nigeria rejigged their backroom staff, adding ex-winger Emmanuel Amunike to the roster.

Ahead of the game, Nigeria’s coach Austine Eguaveon said his boys are ready to face Ghana, insisting that they will give their best.

“All we have as our goal now is to put in all efforts and cross the line, qualify for the World Cup in Qatar,” he told the CAF website.

“It’s a special game indeed, it’s the final game of the qualifiers, the first and the second leg determines our place in the World Cup in Qatar, but I guarantee we are well prepared, every member of the team is working round the clock as Ghana is not a pushover. They are a very strong team and our matches with them have been explosive, this time, we are bringing the game on again.”

Ghana Team News And Key Men

Having struggled in recent games, culminating in a horrifying AFCON outing where they crashed out in the group stage with just one point, Nigeria’s opponent will head into the tie expecting a reversal of fortunes.

The Black Stars qualified for the playoffs following a controversial victory over South Africa in the last game of the previous qualification round.

But a woeful outing in Cameroon ended in a humiliating loss to lowly-placed Comoros. In the wake of the crash, Ghana sacked their Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac and appointed former player Otto Addo. Otto, who is one of the second team coaches at Borussia Dortmund, is assisted by a former Newcastle manager Chris Hughton for the two games.

Several players who featured at the AFCON were not invited for the tie.  Instead, six players including AS Roma youngster Felix Afena-Gyan were handed their debut call-ups. Fulham defender Denis Odoi and Hearts of Oak star Dennis Korsah also got their maiden call-ups.

Ghanaian skipper Andre Ayew is absent due to a suspension. In his stead, Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey is expected to inspire the Black Stars to victory over their perennial rivals.

Despite the team’s poor run of form, Addo says Ghana can book a ticket to the competition. Games between Nigeria and Ghana are “difficult” but with support and “strategies”, the Black Stars will land in Qatar, the coach maintained.

“We all expect Ghana to qualify for the FIFA World Cup (Qatar 2022) but that won’t be easy as we need to do our best to make it to this tournament,” Addo said in an interview with the CAF website.

“Matches between Ghana and Nigeria are always difficult but we believe in our players, we believe in our strategies, and we believe in the unflinching support of all Ghanaians as we go into these two matches.”

Ghana Vs Nigeria: Head To Head, Team Form 

In their last five matches, the Super Eagles have drawn one, lost another but were victorious on three occasions. For Ghana, however, their last five games have resulted in three defeats, one draw, and a victory.

The four-time African champions have met Nigeria 56 times with the former triumphing in 25 games while their opponents have only won 12. There are 19 draws between the sides.

Nigeria have qualified six times for the World Cup, just one shy of Cameroon, the only African team that have participated the most in the competition. Ghana have played thrice at the World Cup but missed out on the 2018 edition in Russia.

Time For Nigeria, Ghana Match

The first leg of the fixture between Ghana and Nigeria will take place by 8:30 pm (WAT) at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi on Friday. Four days later, Tuesday,  the second leg will hold at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja, Nigeria. This will kick off by 06:00 pm (WAT/Nigerian time).

WCQ: Onazi On Standby, Ighalo Returns As Nigeria Name Squad For Ghana Clash

(Top L-R) Nigeria’s goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, defender Kenneth Omeruo, forward Taiwo Awoniyi, midfielder Joe Aribo, defender William Troost-Ekong, (bottom L-R) forward Kelechi Iheanacho, defender Ola Aina, defender Zaidu Sanusi, forward Moses Simon and forward Samuel Chukwueze pose prior to the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Tunisia at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 23, 2022. Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP

 

Midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has been put on standby as Nigeria on Friday named their squad, which included Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2022 absentee, Oghenekaro Etebo, for the World Cup play-off against regional rivals Ghana later this month.

The long-time absentee was part of the Super Eagles side that won the AFCON in 2013.

Leicester City forward Ademola Lookman was also included in the provisional squad.  Nigeria take on Ghana at the 20,000–capacity Cape Coast Sports Stadium on March 25, with the reverse leg set for Abuja four days later.

READ ALSO: [Waldrum] Our Mission Is To See Super Falcons Compete Creditably With The World’s Best

The winners from the tie will earn one of Africa’s five tickets to the World Cup finals in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.

Lookman has been cleared by FIFA to play for Nigeria after he represented England at various age-grade levels.

He is one of three uncapped players selected by Nigeria, along with Calvin Bassey of Scottish champions Rangers and FC Copenhagen youngster Akinkunmi Amoo.

The enlarged squad also includes Watford forward Emmanuel Dennis and striker Odion Ighalo, who were blocked by their clubs from featuring at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, who missed the competition, was also invited.

Taiwo Awoniyi, Peter Olayinka, and Chidozie Awaziem, who all played at the recent AFCON, as well as long-term absentee Ogenyi Onazi, are on a seven-man standby list.

The training camp opens in Abuja on March 21 with a 24–man final list for the two play-off games to be released at a later date.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia/CYP), Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs/RSA), Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam/NED)

Defenders: Semi Ajayi (West Brom/ENG), Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes/ESP), Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), William Ekong (Watford/ENG), Ola Aina (Torino/ITA), Calvin Bassey (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia/CYP), Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto/POR)

Midfielders: Frank Onyeka (Brentford/ENG), Joe Aribo (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City/ENG), Oghenekaro Etebo (Watford/ENG), Akinkunmi Amoo (FC Copenhagen/DEN)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk/TUR), Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal/ESP), Victor Osimhen (Napoli/ITA), Moses Simon (Nantes/FRA), Sadiq Umar (Almeria/ESP), Odion Ighalo (Al-Hilal/KSA), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City/ENG), Emmanuel Dennis (Watford/ENG), Ademola Lookman (Leicester City/ENG)

Standby: Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor/TUR), Jamilu Collins (Paderborn/GER), Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow/RUS), Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin/GER), Paul Onuachu (Genk/BEL), Peter Olayinka (Slavia Prague/CZE), Ogenyi Onazi (Al-Adalah/KSA)

AFP

‘New Chapter’: Ighalo Excited By Al-Hilal Move

Ighalo did not join the Nigerian team for the 2021 AFCON. Photo: [email protected]

 

Super Eagles forward, Odion Ighalo, is excited over his recent move to Saudi Arabia club, Al-Hilal, describing it as a new chapter in his career.

“Those that leave everything in God’s hand will eventually see God’s hand in everything…New Chapter,” the player wrote in a post on social media, hours after the team confirmed his signing.

 

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Ighalo joined the side from Al Shabab for an undisclosed fee, almost two years after teaming up with them on a two and half year contract. Before the recent move, the former Watford man had scored 12 goals this season, making him the leading scorer in the league. Since joining Al Shabab in February 2021, he has netted 20 goals in 30 appearances.

The player is expected to continue his fine form with his new team who are fourth on the league log. Al-Hilal finished as champions last season but are four points behind table-toppers Al Nassr although with a game at hand.

He joined Al Shabab after a loan spell with English Premier League club, Manchester United. It is also unclear if his recent switch had anything to do with Al Shabab’s refusal to release him for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) where Nigeria were knocked out by Tunisia in the Round of 16.

Blow For Nigeria As NFF Rules Ighalo Out Of 2021 AFCON

Ighalo had earlier retired from the national team in 2019. Photo: [email protected]

 

Super Eagles returnee, Odion Ighalo, has been ruled out of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), signalling another blow to Nigeria’s quest for a fourth continental laurel.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) confirmed the development on Thursday, explaining that the striker’s Saudi Arabia club, Al- Shabab, did not release him for the tournament which begins on Sunday in the Cameroon.

Ighalo, top scorer at the 2019 edition of the competition where Nigeria finished third, had only recently returned to the team. He retired after the tournament hosted in Egypt.

READ ALSO: Osimhen Tests Positive For COVID-19 Again

Thursday’s revelation is a major setback to the Super Eagles team already missing key players.

Last week, the football body confirmed that Nigeria’s top scorer during the 2022 World Cup qualification series, Victor Osimhen, will not be playing in the competition.

The Napoli forward was ruled out due to health issues after the player had expressed readiness to represent the nation in Cameroon.

“Lively forward Victor Osimhen’s positive test to the coronavirus pandemic a couple of days ago and injury to the versatile Abdullahi Shehu have constrained changes to Nigeria’s final 28-man list for the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations starting in Cameroon next weekend,” a statement from the NFF read.

Aside from Osimhen, Watford also failed to release in-form striker, Dennis Emmanuel, for Nigeria’s 19th appearance at the continental showpiece, a move the NFF described as “baring of fangs.”

Defender Leon Balogun and Cyprus-based Abdullahi Shehu were also among the players ruled out of the soccer party last week.

In their stead,  Nigeria invited Henry Onyekuru, Peter Olayinka, Tyronne Ebuehi, and Oluwasemilogo Ajayi.

Nigeria begin their AFCON journey on Tuesday, January 11th when they face record winners, Egypt, in the Group D opening fixture.

W/Cup Qualifier: Ighalo Returns To Super Eagles Squad For Liberia, Cape Verde

File photo: Nigeria’s players line up before the 2022 Qatar World Cup African qualifiers group 3 football match between Nigeria and the Central Africa Republic at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, in Surulere in Lagos State, on October 7, 2021. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr, has given a surprise invitation to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations top scorer, Odion Jude Ighalo, who announced his retirement from the international game after the tournament in Egypt.

Coach Rohr has also listed team captain Ahmed Musa, deputy captain William Ekong, defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Leon Balogun; midfielders Wilfred Ndidi and Alex Iwobi; forwards Moses Simon and Victor Osimhen for Nigeria’s closing Group C games of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 African race against Liberia and Cape Verde this month.

The Super Eagles will tackle the Lone Star of Liberia at the Grand Stade Tangier in Morocco on Saturday, 13th November, and then fly into Lagos for the final group game against Cape Verde’s Blue Sharks at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Tuesday, 16th November.


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The invited players and overseas-based members of the technical crew are to report directly to the city of Tangier on Monday, 8th November while technical officials from Nigeria are to report in Tangier the same day.

Top of their pool with nine points but hotly chased by seven-pointer Cape Verde who host the Central African Republic on the island of Mindelo, the Eagles need the three points against the Lone Star on the neutral turf of Morocco’s principal northern city to remain on firm ground when hosting the Blue Sharks three days later in Nigeria’s commercial and industrial capital.

Leicester City of England’s midfield enforcer Wilfred Ndidi, who missed the last round of games home-and-away against the Central African Republic, is back in the trough, just as fellow Premiership boy Alex Iwobi and Spain-based forward Samuel Chukwueze.

INVITED SUPER EAGLES PLAYERS

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Defenders: Chidozie Awaziem (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); William Ekong (Watford FC, England); Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07, Germany); Abdullahi Shehu (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal); Kevin Akpoguma (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany)

Midfielders: Frank Onyeka (Brentford FC, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Fatih Karagumruk, Turkey); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Victor Osimhen (Napoli FC, Italy); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Odion Jude Ighalo (Al-Shabab Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)

‘I Have Not Said Yes Or No’: Ighalo Mulls Super Eagles Return

Ighalo retired from the national team in 2019. Photo: [email protected]

 

Striker Odion Ighalo is undecided on a possible return to the Super Eagles, more than two years after he retired from the national team. 

Super Eagles Head Coach Gernot Rohr had recently hinted at a potential return for the former Watford forward.

But Ighalo, who is enjoying an impressive form with Saudi Arabian top side Al Shabab, is yet to make a decision on the matter.

“They have been in contact with me about the possibility of coming back, Amaju and coach,” the former Manchester United star told ESPN. “I don’t know. I have not said yes or no. I haven’t made any decision concerning the national team.”


RELATED

‘A New Chapter:’ Nigerian Star Ighalo Joins Saudi Club Al Shabab
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‘No Reason Not To Take Him’

File photo: Nigeria’s coach Gernot Rohr (2nd-R) celebrates with forward Alex Iwobi (R) and Odion Ighalo during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Cameroon at the Alexandria Stadium in the Egyptian city on July 6, 2019. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

Football authorities in Nigeria have never hidden their desire to see the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) top-scorer make a u-turn on his international career.

Earlier in the year, Rohr had said he would not rule out the possibility of a national team return for the 32-year-old.

“There’s no reason not to take him if he’s doing well. The question is if he wants to come back,”  the German said in an interview on the Super Eagles YouTube channel. “We hope so because he’s an experienced player. He can be very useful to his partners. We’re waiting…”

The coach, who made the comment just as Ighalo joined the Middle East side after a loan spell with Manchester United, believed the switch would help the Nigerian gain fitness.

“He’s fit, playing regularly for his new club (Al Shabab), a big club in Saudi Arabia, and doing well,” Rohr maintained.

“There’s no reason not to have him back. We also had Ahmed Musa when he was playing in Saudi Arabia.”

Ighalo featured 35 times for the Nigerian senior national team after making his debut in 2015. He scored 16 goals.

News about the former Shanghai Shenhua man’s possible return to the three-time AFCON winners will be a major boost for the Eagles in their quest for a 2022 World Cup ticket.

They will play two games next month –  Liberia and Cape Verde – in the final round of group stage qualifiers for the competition in Qatar.

Getting To FA Cup Final ‘Would Make My Dreams Perfect,’ Says Ighalo

Ighalo joined Manchester United in a surprise move at the close of the January 2020 transfer window,
File: Ighalo joined Manchester United in a surprise move at the close of the January 2020 transfer window,

 

 

Nigerian striker, Odion Ighalo is determined to help Manchester United reach the final of the English FA Cup, saying it “would make my dreams perfect.”

Ighalo, 31, is on loan at the Old Trafford side until January 2021 and has been impressive since joining them early 2020.

While speaking ahead of United’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea on Sunday, the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) top scorer, said he would “fight hard” to ensure the Reds win the game.

 

Nigeria Grab Early Lead In Tunisia AFCON Third Place Clash
File photo: Nigeria’s forward Odion Ighalo (2nd-R) dribbles past Tunisia’s defender Nassim Hnid during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) third place play-off football match between Tunisia and Nigeria at the Al Salam stadium in Cairo on July 17, 2019. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

 

According to him, even though playing against Frank Lampard’s men would be a tough one, his teammates are ready to “give everything” to beat them and reach the final of the competition.

He recalled how he missed getting to the final of the FA Cup in 2016 when he was with Watford and said the match against the Blues is another chance for him to do that with the club he has been supporting “all my life.”

“To get to the final would be great for me in my life and my career,” he told the club’s website.

“I missed out in 2016 and I have the opportunity to now get to the final with the club I’ve supported all my life. It would make my dreams perfect. It will be tough but we have what it takes.”

Potential London Final

On Saturday, Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double clinched a shock 2-0 win for Arsenal over holders Manchester City at Wembley.

 

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) leaps for the ball as Manchester City's French defender Benjamin Mendy (R) defends during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE
File photo: Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) leaps for the ball as Manchester City’s French defender Benjamin Mendy (R) defends during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP)

 

The win means the North London side will take on the victors from the Chelsea vs Manchester United match in the final at Wembley on August 1.

Arteta captained Arsenal to FA Cup triumph six years ago and, in his first season in charge of the north London club, the Spaniard has led them back to the final of a competition they last won in 2017.

Just days after beating Premier League champions Liverpool, Arsenal offered further evidence that Arteta could be the man to restore them to the glory days of the Arsene Wenger era.

Ighalo Excited By ‘Dream’ Man Utd Extension

In this file photo taken on February 27, 2020 Manchester United's Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo reacts at the final whistle during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg football match between Manchester United and Club Brugge at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on February 27, 2020.  Oli SCARFF / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 27, 2020 Manchester United’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo reacts at the final whistle during the UEFA Europa League round of 32-second leg football match between Manchester United and Club Brugge at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on February 27, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Odion Ighalo said on Tuesday he was living the dream after his loan move to Manchester United was extended despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nigeria international, a lifelong United fan, joined the club on loan from Shanghai Shenhua in January due to the COVID-19 situation then prevailing in China.

But the virus then spread to Europe and brought the Premier League season to a halt in mid-March.

It looked then as if the 30-year-old’s career with United might amount to just eight games given his original deal was due to expire on May 31.

But ahead of the Premier League season resuming on June 17, United said Monday they had agreed with Shenhua to extend Ighalo’s loan move until January.

“I’m really happy. It’s a dream for me to be here. I’m buzzing and ready to go,” Ighalo told MUTV.

“The last few days have been difficult as there have been different talks about it but now I’m really happy, so I need to concentrate fully. I’m here until the end of January, so it’s good for me.”

The most recent of Ighalo’s four goals for United came in a Europa League match away to LASK, a fixture played behind closed doors as a result of coronavirus measures in Austria.

Fixtures without spectators will become the norm when the Premier League resumes and Ighalo, recalling his experience, said: “It was strange, you know, but it’s OK.

“We know there is nothing we can do now but play behind closed doors and we’re happy to do it.

“In the game against LASK, it was strange because you could hear everything when your team-mates shouted. In a normal game, you can’t hear, but it was clear and loud.

“It’s a bit strange without fans, and difficult, but we have to be safe so we have to do it.”

Man United Close To Extending Ighalo’s Loan Deal, Says Agent

Ighalo joined Manchester United in a surprise move at the close of the January 2020 transfer window,
Ighalo joined Manchester United in a surprise move at the close of the January 2020 transfer window,

 

Premier League giants, Manchester United are “nearing” a loan deal extension for Nigerian forward, Odion Ighalo.

Ighalo’s six-month loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua is supposed to end on Sunday (today) with the Chinese Super League club earlier saying they wanted the player back.

The player’s agent, Atta Aneke, has, however, revealed that Ighalo is close to extending his stay with the Old Trafford side he joined on the January 2020 transfer deadline day.

According to Atta, negotiations between Shangai and United are ongoing and an agreement is expected to be reached on Sunday.

“We are nearing an agreement with Manchester United on an extended loan,” the agent was quoted as telling Norwegian outlet, Nettavisen. “The agreement will mean that Ighalo will remain with them until January 2021.”

READ ALSO: Some Female Footballers Earn N30, 000 Monthly In Nigeria, Claims Oshoala

Shanghai were eager to take the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) highest goals scorer back as the Chinese Super League is set to resume at the end of June or July.

The club were ready to let Ighalo join Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side on a permanent basis if United could pay at least £20 million.

United, however, want the player but not on a permanent deal and are offering another seven months that will see him stay at the club until January 2021.
Since joining the English side, Ighalo has bagged four goals in eight games in all competitions.

Ighalo Set For United Exit As Chinese Club Reject Loan Extension

A file photo of Odion Ighalo. Source: [email protected]

 

Nigerian striker, Odion Ighalo could be on his way out of Manchester United after his parent club, Shanghai Shenhua rejected the Old Trafford side’s request to keep him for another three months.

Ighalo, 30, joined United on the January transfer deadline day this year and has won many hearts with his display which has seen him scoring four goals in eight matches.

United signed the former Watford striker on a six months loan deal for £3m following an injury to English star, Marcus Rashford.

READ ALSO: NFF President Pinnick Condoles With Eagles Star Osimhen Over Father’s Death

Although Ighalo wants to stay back with the Red Devils who are interested in keeping the Nigerian until August when the season ends, the Chinese Super League outfit are asking the player to return to the Asian country to finish off the delayed campaign, according to Daily Mail.

Already, they have offered him a two-year contract extension of £400,000 a week until 2024.

With contract talks stalled and pending a late breakthrough, Ighalo may have played his last match for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team as his loan deal elapses on Monday, May 31.

The English giants may have to pay about £20million – an amount Shanghai are willing to let go of the Nigerian – to get him on a permanent deal if speculations about the player’s future are anything to go by.

But that cannot go through until the beginning of the summer transfer window in August.

The 30-year-old resumed training the United squad at Carrington last week but it remains unclear if Ighalo will be at the Old Trafford by this time next week.

Nigerian Star Ighalo Eager To Extend Man United Deal

A file photo of Odion Ighalo. Source: [email protected]

 

Former Super Eagles star, Odion Ighalo, is eager to extend his stay with Manchester United until the end of the Premier League season. 

Ighalo, 30, joined the Premier League side from Chinese Super League outfit, Shanghai Shenhua in January and his contract with the Old Trafford side will expire on May 31.

The Premier League is expected to restart in June after going on a break due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but with the Chinese league set to resume, the Nigerian may return to the Asian nation.

READ ALSO: Football To Allow Five Substitutions When Play Restarts

Staying back with Red Devils until the end of the season, however, is something the former Watford man wants

“I would like to finish the season if it’s possible,” Ighalo was quoted as telling BBC Sport.

The player noted that before the season went on a break, he was in a good form, and scoring goals for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

According to him, he gave his best to the team and is hoping that play will restart soon.

Reflecting on the team’s form before the league was paused, Ighalo said United was having a “good momentum” but expressed worries that since he is on loan, his time with the club may be cut short.

The Premier League giants are keen to extend Ighalo’s contract with the player having scored four goals in eight matches in all competitions for the club.

Clubs and players are passing through a lot this period as they have not been able to do what they love, according to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) highest goalscorer.

He explained that as efforts are being made to restart and finish the season, contract talks would not be on the radar at the moment.

“I just want everyone to be safe and see what the future holds,” he added.

With nine games remaining, Solskjaer’s men are fifth on the league log and Ighalo hopes the Premier League will take the right decision and restart play when it is safe to do so.

Clubs in England’s top division will meet on Monday to discuss a possible resumption date for the season.

I’m Inspired By Manchester United’s Direction, Says Nigerian Striker Ighalo

A file photo of Odion Ighalo.

 

Manchester United striker, Odion Ighalo, has said he is inspired by the club’s direction and how they take the development of young players.

The Nigerian who teamed up with the Premier League giants during the January transfer window (on a loan spell till the end of the season) from Chinese Super League side, Shangai Shenhua, believes United is different from what people side outside.

According to the former Watford goal poacher, the Red Devils are a big team with a good structure which may sometimes take being an insider to see.

Ighalo hailed the Old Trafford side for how they have handled youth development, adding that he looks forward to spending more time with the side.

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“I am inspired by the way the club is structured, I am inspired by the direction of the club, I am inspired by the development of the young players and how they are coming through from the grassroots to the first team,” he told Manchester United’s official website when asked the most inspiring thing about the club.

Also, the player described himself as a beast on the field of play, contrary to the gentle nature people ascribe to him.

According to Ighalo, he is an individual who never gives up and will fight, including on the field, to the end even in face of challenges.

The player will be hoping to get a permanent deal from the 1999 Champions League winners when the season, postponed over the coronavirus pandemic, restarts.