As the Super Eagles of Nigeria prepare to take on Liberia and Cape Verde, 24 players have been called up.
The squad list ahead of both crucial World Cup qualifying games includes Ahmed Musa and Odion Ighalo. That may not raise any alarm for the average Nigerian but it is a bad idea for many reasons.
Why the Super Eagles can’t have both Musa and Ighalo
The 24-man list contains seven attackers, excluding Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi who are officially listed as midfielders. Nigeria is very lucky to have so many attacking options, a lot of good players missed out on the callup.
Which makes it even more baffling that Gernot Rohr somehow managed to create space for two players who are past their best.
Both Ahmed Musa and Odion Ighalo were superb for the Super Eagles during their prime but they’re past it now. The truth is they both have a spot in the squad based on their experience, which is important.
I understand the need for experience and mentorship as Nigeria prepares for the AFCON in January. Having someone who’s been there and done that can work in Nigeria’s favour.
However, in the case where squad space is limited, it makes no sense selecting two players in similar positions simply based on experience and nothing else.
It would be understandable if one of them was a defender or midfielder but they’re both attackers. This means Gernot Rohr must now use his discretion to select which one he’s sticking with.
Ahmed Musa or Odion Ighalo?
Having now established that we can’t have both Musa and Ighalo, who should Gernot Rohr choose? The answer is simply Odion Ighalo.
Ahmed Musa is still only 29 years old but you wouldn’t be able to tell by how rapidly he’s declined over the years. Musa now plays for Fatih Karamguruk in the Turkish top-flight with one goal in 11 games.
Musa has been the poster boy for undeserved national team call ups for years under Gernot Rohr. He consistently gets invitations even while without a club.
His call ups haven’t been because of his productivity either. Ahmed Musa hasn’t scored for Nigeria since October 2018. He has only two assists in the 27 Super Eagles games since then.
Which begs the question, why is he still getting invitations to the Super Eagles ahead of far more productive attackers?
Odion Ighalo on the other hand has nine goals in 11 appearances for Al Shabab.
The striker was recently chosen as the player of the month in the Saudi Arabian Professional League.
He retired from international football in 2019 and has still scored more recently for the Super Eagles than Ahmed Musa.
Odion Ighalo has scored six goals for Nigeria since Ahmed Musa last did, this shouldn’t even be a debate.
In Odion Ighalo, Super Eagles would get the needed experience but along with crucial productivity.