Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo has joined the long list of players to miss out on the 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon.
Ighalo, whose Saudi Arabian club Al Shabab, did not permit his participation in the AFCON 2021, joins fellow strikers Victor Osimhen and Emmanuel Dennis to miss the competition.
Nigeria Super Eagles coach Augustine Egwavoen had given Ighalo a 5:00 pm deadline to join the team on Tuesday. But Al Shabab said the official invitation from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) came in late.
Majid Al-Marzouki, an official of Al Shabab, said there is no further conversation between Nigeria and the Asian club as Ighalo’s absence from the 2021 AFCON is ‘settled’.
“The Fifa Player Status Regulations stipulates that the federation must notify the player and his club in writing of his summons 15 days before the start of the tournament, and it is advised to send a copy to the local federation of the club as well, which did not happen,” Al-Marzouki said.
“Accordingly, the coach [Pericles Chamusca] told us that the player will stay with us and will not join the Nigerian team.
“There are no negotiations between us and the Nigerian federation, and the player is committed to the decision. The situation is settled.”
The Nigerian team has departed Nigeria’s capital city Abuja on Wednesday and has arrived in Cameroon for the competition which starts on Sunday, January 9.
Nigeria, three-time AFCON winners, will confront seven-time and record winners Egypt, Sudan, and debutants Guinea Bissau at Garoua, and a clash with the Pharaohs in the group opener on Tuesday, 11 January 2022.
Despite having a changed squad from the original one, Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa said he is confident of Nigeria clinching a fourth AFCON title in Cameroon.
“We aren’t going to Cameroon to see the beauty of the country but to win. I remember during the qualifiers when we sealed qualification, we said we aren’t just going to the AFCON we’re going to come back with the trophy,” Musa told journalists in Abuja.