Is Iheanacho upturn coming at the right time for Nigeria?

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Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City
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The Super Eagles certainly need firepower as the final Africa Cup of Qualifiers approach

Despite a wealth of resources—on paper—Nigeria’s attack isn’t looking particularly healthy as the final Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers approach.

Victor Osimhen’s troubles at Napoli have been well-documented, and he’s also suffered yet another setback as the season reaches its conclusion.

Even without his problems with fitness, the Eagles number one striker has only scored two goals in Serie A this term as he’s struggled to impress in the Italian top flight.

Elsewhere, Paul Onuachu has scored hatfuls in Belgium, but he hardly looked like a good fit after being given some gametime by Gernot Rohr last term, while Cyriel Dessers looks a shadow of his former self at Genk.

Emmanuel Dennis hasn’t kicked on after his encouraging showings last season, while Terem Moffi lacks international experience, despite being a bright prospect.

Moffi Terem

Talk of Odion Ighalo returning to the international fold is understandable, but it tells its own story in terms of Nigeria’s current striking options.

Should an ageing frontman currently plying his trade in Saudi Arabia, having failed to score a single league goal at Manchester United, really be considered a solution for Nigeria?

In this context, Kelechi Iheanacho’s upturn in form at Leicester City ought to be celebrated.

The hitman followed up his recent goal against Brighton & Hove Albion—the winner in a 1-0 victory—with a goal against Burnley on Wednesday evening, finding the net in style after being picked out by Wilfred Ndidi.

With Jamie Vardy struggling at the moment, Iheanacho provided rare evidence that he can be a solution for the East Midlanders, and his delicious finish ought to give him much needed confidence ahead of the run-in.

Jamie Vardy Leicester 2020-21

The Nigerian now has three goals in his last six games, having previously gone 14 goals in all competitions—for club and country—without finding the net.

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The striker must now prove that it’s not yet another false dawn, he did—after all—have a hand in six goals across three matches in October and November, and he must maintain his recent form to begin to amend a poor goalscoring record at the King Power Stadium.

He appears to be relishing playing away from home, having scored two in his last three away starts, just one fewer than he managed in his previous 15 starts away from the Foxes’ home, although consistency will be key moving forward.

Iheanacho has provided hope that he can handle the burden during an increasingly barren spell for Vardy (one goal in 2021) during Leicester’s run-in, can he also step up for a country who needs him right now.