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Why Ighalo’s ambition to force Al Shabab’s hand to release him for AFCON is wrong
By on January 8th, 2022. Sports

Jude Odion Ighalo is refusing to train with Al Shabab because according to him, his spirit is with his teammates in AFCON 2021 and he would do all in his power to join Augustine Eguavoen there. While no one can argue against Ighalo’s desire to take part in the biggest football competition in Africa, there are reasons why his actions are unprofessional.

Al Shabab signed Ighalo at a time when the 32 years old striker has already called it quits with Nigeria. His contract presumes that he is an ex-international and negotiations were made on the basis that he would not be going for national team duties. Odion’s reason for jettisoning the National Team at just 30 years of age ,(or less) is extremely trivial. The claim was that he received purported life threats from fans after he missed a goal against Argentina in the 2018 World Cup. While the fans were certainly insane to threaten him so, it was extreme to quit the national team on that ground.

Furthermore, when his contract with Al Shabab was being signed, the papers alleged that it specifically stated that he would not play for the national team. If that was the case (and several sources claim it is) then Ighalo was unpatriotic to have signed the dotted lines on those terms.

Al Shabab though has not said their contract stipulates that Ighalo cannot play for Nigeria. In fact it is debatable if such terms will not be repugnant and punishable by FIFA because in the end, the footballer is not a slave. However, their claim which has gone totally unchallenged by the NFF is that Odion Ighalo’s invitation letter came too late. A similar reason was why Watford refused to release Emmanuel Dennis so why is Ighalo’s case different? Is it because Al Shabab is not an English Premier League side?

Ighalo can succeed in forcing his way to Cameroon and many hope he does but it is going to hurt his relationship with his club. Some feel that he is too good to be playing in Saudi Arabia anyway but does Ighalo want to create rancour in his team? The best way to resolve the problem should have been dialogue not rebellion.

It is sad though the foreign clubs always treat AFCON with disdain and utter disrespect. This everyone must condemn

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Adeleke Ayobami

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