Odion Ighalo has been called out of retirement for the Super Eagles’ upcoming World Cup qualifiers which raised some eyebrows.
The discontent about Ighalo’s call-up was justified as he’s past his prime but that doesn’t mean he can’t be useful. Odion Ighalo’s experience will be valuable to the Super Eagles and one player in particular.
Victor Osimhen, the man who has been the Super Eagles’ starting striker since Ighalo retired in 2019 may well be the biggest beneficiary of Ighalo’s return.
Despite being one of the best strikers in the world at the moment, Victor Osimhen is still far from the finished article and could pick up a few things from Ighalo’s game such as:
BEATING OFFSIDE TRAPS
As energetic as Victor Osimhen is, one big flaw in his game is his inability to time his run perfectly. The 22-year old is always eager to move and he often runs past the last defender and into offside positions.
Odion Ighalo on the other hand is a master at beating the offside trap because he’s a careful runner. The 32-year old lacks the energy to run everywhere which is why he became so good at picking his runs and timing them to perfection.
That is one aspect of Odion Ighalo’s game that Victor Osimhen would benefit from adopting. Adding positional intelligence to his lightning pace would make Osimhen far more dangerous than he currently is.
Despite being the taller of the two players, Victor Osimhen has fewer headed career goals than Odion Ighalo.
Odion Ighalo’s superior positioning and ability to accurately time his jump is the secret to him being prolific with his head.
That’s not to say Victor Osimhen is a slouch in the air but he’s not been as dominant as his size suggests. Perhaps spending valuable time with Odion Ighalo in Super Eagles training will help Osimhen improve aerially.
SUPER EAGLES TOURNAMENT EXPERIENCE
10 out of Odion Ighalo’s 35 total appearances for the Super Eagles have come at tournaments. The veteran striker has been to the World Cup and Nations Cup with Nigeria.
He won the Golden Boot at the last AFCON which shows that he knows a thing or two about playing in tournaments.
Osimhen’s only tournament experience with Nigeria was also at the last AFCON but he only played 44 minutes in one game.
Playing in qualifiers and friendlies is not the same as playing in international tournaments, the stakes are much higher.
As Nigeria approaches the 2022 AFCON Osimhen might need Ighalo to bring him up to speed with his experience.