Former Nigerian Captain, Nwankwo Kanu, was full of praises for Super Eagles forward, Odion Ighalo, as the Changchun Yatai star in the Chinese Super League has rediscover his scoring tricks.
The former Watford FC player, whose exploit in the Chinese league was complete opposite of his performance for Nigeria at the last World Cup in Russia has suddenly warmed himself back into the hearts of soccer loving Nigerian as the leading scorer with six goals in the AFCON 2019 qualification series.
Kanu commended the striker for his ability to come out of his goals-drought to rediscover himself again for the national team.
According to Kanu, “it is not possible for Ighalo to deliberately miss those scoring chances most fans are crucified him for, rather it was unfortunate that he did not make best use of the balls that could have buried mighty Argentina in that crucial match at the World Cup in Russia.
“Fans need to appreciate the state of mind of a footballer. While in other clime they are encouraged, it is sad here we crucify them as if it is a deliberate act not to write ones name in gold with goals,” observed the former Arsenal legend.
The Atlanta Olympic gold medalist expressed his happiness that all that is now history for Ighalo.
“For Ighalo to have banished the ghost of Russia 2018 and return to winning ways in the national team shows that he has conquered the psychological problem within a short period. This is good for him and the country too,” remarked Kanu in an interview during the investiture ceremony of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) at the Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi’s Palace last Tuesday
He also advised football fans not to be too emotional at crucifying players saying that aside the fact that players have to go through a lot of rigorous training to reach that height, they are family men too.
“When you throw stone at your hero just because he did not play to your expectation, you are not in anyway encouraging him to hit his prime again rather it’s the other way round. There is the need for us to cultivate the habit of encouraging and not the other way round,” he advised.
Since his superlative opening goal in last year’s 4-0 rout of Cameroon in Uyo, Ighalo fired blank. His most culpable gaffe was the miss against Argentina at the World Cup.
However, even when he resumed goal scoring by netting in Nigeria’s third goal in the 3-0 defeat of Seychelles away, many football fans still did not reckon with him, possibly on account of the relative strength of the opposition and possibly because the goal was from the penalty spot.
All that changed after a five-star performance against Libya which saw him score five goals in two matches this month.