Former Nigeria U17 and U20 coach John Obuh has advised Kelechi Iheanacho to search for a new club in a bid for regular playing time after he was left out of the Gernot Rohr’s quad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
After playing no part in Nigeria’s goalless draw against Zimbabwe on Saturday, Iheanacho was axed from the provisional squad alongside Rotherham United’s Semi Ajayi as Rohr confirmed his 23-man squad for the Afcon on Sunday.
But Obuh thinks his lack of playing time at Leicester City during 2018-19 season limited his chances of making it to Africa’s foremost football competition.
"He hasn't been participating actively in the league, it will be difficult for us to fault the coach because whatever decision he's making for this Afcon, he's doing it based on club performance,” Obuh told Goal .
“If you remember, Mikel has not been in the national team for a while but he has been playing for his club so he has a different case to deal with even though some people try to talk about that.
“Iheanacho is a young, talented footballer and we all know that. I think what he really needs to do is to look for a club that will grant him a regular playing time so that he won't go into too much competition with anybody that will cause him not to play.
“That's the simple thing he needs to do because it will help him. I think the coach's decision is okay and he should accept it in good faith and think for a way forward for himself.”
During the just-concluded campaign, Iheanacho made only nine starts in 30 league matches for the Foxes, with just a goal to his credit.
Obuh said the former Manchester City forward lacks playing time, but he played 930 minutes of league football in the season, his best return yet in the Premier League.
“The best thing is for him to look for a club where he will play regularly irrespective of how much he is going to earn because he needs to come back to the performance that we know him for, which is very important,” Obuh continued.
When quizzed further about Nigeria’s chances and target in Egypt, the ex-Kwara United and Enugu Rangers tactician charged Rohr’s men to bring the trophy home, something which they last achieved in 2013.
“The most important thing is that 90 percent of them have been playing together for quite some time now so by such advantage, it is expected for them to do well,” Obuh added.
“The target is for the team to maintain the country's best performance of winning the title, there's no stage we have not gotten to. We have finished as third, second and winner before, so we need to target the title and not come down.”