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Ighalo’s return will bring competition to Nigeria’s attack – Garba Lawal

19:09 GMT 01/11/2021
Ahmed Musa, Ighalo - Nigeria
The ex-Super Eagles star is relishing the return of the Saudi Arabia based striker to Gernot Rohr’s squad and has no doubt over what he can offer

Garba Lawal claims Odion Ighalo’s international return will bring competition to the Super Eagles, lauding him for the experience he possesses.

The former Manchester United striker had drawn the curtain on his Nigeria career days after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations – where he emerged as top scorer in Egypt.

Two years later, he rescinded his decision as coach Gernot Rohr aimed to find stability in the frontline of the three-time African champions.

And on Monday evening, the 32-year-old was among the 24-man squad for the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Liberia and Cape Verde in November.

As Ighalo’s return continues to generate contrasting reactions, the Levski Sofia and Roda JC Kerkrade attacking midfielder weighs in his opinion on what the Al Shabab FC star would bring to Rohr’s squad.

“He has the experience, so I will say this is a fantastic development,” Garba Lawal told Goal.

“Truth be told, his experience is needed because those younger players like [Kelechi] Iheanacho, and [Taiwo] Awoniyi need someone like him around them.

“They will surely learn from him. Also, Nigerians should not expect Ighalo to play every game or for 90 minutes because when you are ageing, the body will not pick on time.”

Lawal does not feel Ighalo’s comeback is a wrong step because of the dynamics in African football.

“We know we have a lot of young strikers which is very good for us as a nation but because African football is very tough, you must have that luck to keep on scoring for the national team,” he continued.

“Our strikers do well for their clubs but when it comes to Nigeria, they always find it very difficult.

“I believe the return of Ighalo will bring competition to that [attacking] department. If I was still at the Super Eagles, this will enable me to step up my game.”

In the 2021-22 campaign, Ighalo has scored nine times in 10 starts for his Saudi Arabia top-flight side.

Nigeria travel to Morocco for their penultimate Group C fixture against the Lone Star on November 13 before hosting Cape Verde in Lagos, three days later.