OFFICIAL: 2019 AFCON TOP-SCORER Odion Ighalo To Miss The 2021 Tournament With The Super Eagles.

The Nigeria's Super Eagles would be without the services of Odion Ighalo for the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations set to begin on Sunday in Cameroon.

Nigeria Football Federation confirmed the news on Thursday that the forward Odion Ighalo is no longer expected as a result of issues with his Saudi Arabian club.

Ighalo's club Al Shabab have refused to let the 2019 AFCON top-scorer join the Super Eagles squad due to a clause he signed in his contract that states he would not be involved in international duties.

Ighalo joined Al Shabab from Shanghai Shenhua in February 2021, after a brief loan-spell with Premier League side Manchester United.

Prior to that move, Ighalo had announced his retirement from the Nigeria national team shortly after being part of the squad that finished third in Egypt 2019.

However, in November 2021, he was recalled back to the team by former manager Gernot Rohr.

Ighalo was among the 10 forwards included the initial 28-man squad list to lead the attack for the three-time champions, when they begin their campaign on Tuesday, January 11 to win the crown for the fourth time.

He was initially given a deadline of Tuesday to confirm his availability by interim Super Eagles coach Augustine Eguavoen before the squad departed from Abuja to Garoua on Wednesday night.

According to reports from BBC, there might not be a replacement for Ighalo.

A Press statement disclosed by the NFF on its website reads; "The team was flown into Garoua aboard an Air Peace jet, arriving at 11.05pm and the team of 25 players and officials are staying at the Hotel Ribadou. Two players, Italy –based Tyrone Ebuehi and fellow wing back Jamilu Collins, who plays in Germany, are both expected to team up with the delegation in Garoua. Forward Odion Ighalo is no longer expected as a result of issues with his Saudi Arabian club."

General Secretary of the NFF, Dr Mohammed Sanusi also reiterated his conviction that " the 27 players Nigeria would be fielding at the tournament are good enough to lift the trophy and earn a fourth triumph for the country."

Before now, Napoli star Victor Osimhen who is the top-scorer in the qualifiers, in-form Watford top-scorer Emmanuel Dennis, and Genk's Paul Onuachu who has scored league 12 goals this season, were dropped from Super Eagles squad for various reasons.

This means that the Super Eagles attacking line going forward in the tournament will be led by Kelechi Iheanacho, Samuel Chukwueze, and Henry Onyekwuru. Chidera Ejuke, Taiwi Awoniyi, Sadiq Umar, Peter Olayinka, and Moses Simon are also included in the attack.

Nigeria will face seven-time champions Egypt led by Mo Salah in the opening game of Group D which includes other countries Sudan and Guinea-Bissau.

They have won the trophy three times (1980, 1994 and 2013), finished as runners-up four times (1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000) and picked up the bronze medals eight times (1976, 1978, 1992, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2019).

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