Ben Iroha, a former Nigeria left-wing-back has applauded Gernot Rohr for recalling Leicester City forward, Kelechi Iheanacho to the Super Eagles, but chides the left-footed forward to grab the opportunity with both hands after missing the final cut for the AFCON 2019 finals in Egypt following a dip in form.
Iheanacho rose to the summit of Nigerians’ heart after an impressive performance for the Golden Eaglets at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup finals in the United Arab Emirates, which Nigeria won.
The left-footed forward endeared himself to the hearts of Manchester City chiefs who quickly snapped him up.
Iheanacho subsequently became an integral part of Super Eagles setup, including making the final cut for the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.
But an incredible dip in form for club and country cost him a place in Gernot Rohr’s 23-man contingent to the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations where Nigeria won the bronze medal, for the 8th time since her participation in the Africa’s foremost football tournament.
Following the retirement of Super Eagles top striker and 2019 AFCON hotshot award winner, Odion Ighalo from international football after the 2019 Nations Cup, Iheanacho has been recalled to the national team ahead the September 10 international friendly in Kiev, against Ukraine, by manager Gernot Rohr.
Iroha who was a member of the Super Eagles 1994 Nations Cup winning team in Tunisia and also featured in Nigeria’s first FIFA World Cup finals appearance in USA, 1994, has told Iheanacho to use the opportunity of the friendly match to lay a strong and permanent claim to his Super Eagles shirt.
“I’m happy for his recall to the Super Eagles setup,” starts Iroha from his base in Texas, USA, Thursday when Completesports.com called him up.
“Iheanacho is a good player, no doubt about that. He missed the 2019 Nations Cup in Egypt because he lost form before the tournament.
“But now Ighalo is no longer in the (Super) Eagles, I believe it is an opportunity for him to step up and make a strong claim of the Eagles shirt.
“Yes, there is still Paul Onuachu in the team, but Iheanacho has a bigger opportunity to step into Ighalo’s shoes based on his experience.
“And I feel the game against Ukraine is a good avenue for him to do that,” Iroha stressed.
The international friendly is aimed at helping Eagles prepare for the 2021 Nations Cup qualifiers and as well prepare Ukraine for the 2020 Euro qualifiers.
It is the first time both countries are meeting at the senior international level.