Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has advised Kelechi Iheanacho to leave Manchester City this Summer in order to be assured of regular playing time.
Iheanacho was a shadow of himself in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa on June 10 in Uyo.
His lack of impact was apparently an outcome of his lack of regular playing time at City in the English Premier League.
The 20- year-old forward strolled the pack against the Bafana Bafana and he let out frustration at the Eagles bench when he was substituted late into the match which Nigeria lost 2-0.
But information at our disposal last night, revealed that Rohr attributed non-fitness of some of his players as reason for the defeat to South Africa.
The coach, who maintained an unbeaten run in six matches before the meltdown in Uyo, made this startling assessment at a meeting with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Technical Committee last week.
We gathered that Rohr admitted that failure of Alex Iwobi of Arsenal and Iheanacho to click and dominate, arose from irregular playing time at their respective clubs in England.
Iheanacho made the headlines in his first season at Man City under coach Manuel Pellegrino as a goal scoring super sub and a teen sensation.
But strangely, he spent more time on the bench last year after the Chilean departed and Pep Guardiola became the manager at Etihad Stadium.
The Spaniard rated Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero ahead of Iheanacho in the first team.
Though there have been reports linking Iheanacho with possible transfer to West Ham, Leicester, Crystal Palace and Newcastle, the former U-17 star has insisted on fighting for his position at Man City next season.
But Rohr has cautioned that he has become redundant at Man City and should consider the option of a transfer or a season long loan to knock him back into shape.
The coach voiced concern that Iheanacho’s lack of match fitness was not in the national team interest ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying matches against Cameroon in August and September.