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Ighalo Primed For AFCON 2019 Top Scorer Race After Emerging Tops In Qualifiers

Ighalo Primed For AFCON 2019 Top Scorer Race After Emerging Tops In Qualifiers

Super Eagles first choice striker, Odion Ighalo will be looking to emerge the highest goal scorer at the forthcoming 2019 African Cup of Nations to be hosted by Egypt in June, Completesports.com reports.

Having emerged the overall African top scorer with 7 goals during the AFCON qualifiers, the 29-year old who plies his trade in the Chinese Super League is aiming to replicate same form at the Nations Cup finals.


Also at the club level, Ighalo who teamed up with Shanghai Shenhua only this year is the club’s leading scorer and currently has four goals in four gamesbto his credit. He was Changchun Yatai top scorer with 21 goals last year, but had to leave the club when they got relegated.

Ighalo is targeting the record of former Eagles star striker, late Rashidi Yekini who was the only Nigerian player to have won the overall top scorer award twice at the Nations Cup in 1992 and 1994 with four and five goals respectively.

Zenith Ziva

Other notable outstanding top scorers a single tournament are the all-time AFCON top scorer, Ndaye Mutamba of Zaire with 9 goals in 1974 edition followed by Laurent Pokou of Cote d’Ivoire who scored 8 goals in 1970.

There were occasions when the award was jointly won by two or more players. Egyptian star Hossam Hassan and South African striker Benni McCarthy were top joint scorers with 7 goals each in 1998.

Other Nigerian stars who won joint awards in a single tournament are Segun Odegbami with 3 goals each in 1978 and 1980, Julius Aghahowa with 3 goals in 2002, Austin Jay Jay Okocha with 4 goals in 2004 and Emmanuel Emenike also with 4 goals in 2013.

This will be Ighalo’s first and probably the last Nations Cup outing with Nigeria having missed the last two editions in 2015 and 2017 staged in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon respectively.

By Sulaiman Alao

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  • Ighalo must risk it all at the AFCON both technically and tactically. He can only get good out of it but, it has to be together with the team as a team because the other teams are not push overs but nonetheless be free from pressure. Shot range, curve ball shots, short ball pass, long ball pass recieve and accuracy dont come easy but are possible when mentally the team are one.

  • _Eggs in many baskets_

    One thing I am really happy about is that in Ighalo, we are not putting all our goal-scoring eggs in 1 basket.

    For all the fun I, at times, make of the calibre of teams and defennces that Ighalo has breached to find the back of nets, make no mistake, Ighalo is a veritable, reputable and proven goal scorer of the highest order!

    Okay, I make fun when he scores against the likes Seychelles and Changchun Yatai but this same Finisher has scored against Cagliari (in Italy), Levante, Liverpool and Cameroon.

    Also, going from the type of deplorable World Cup he had to then emerge as Africa’s top scorer in the Afcon qualifiers underscores the resilient and dynamic goal scoring abilities of the man.

    So, scoring goals for Nigeria in Egypt rest on Ighalo, right?

    Not exactly!

    For those who have keenly watched the Super Eagles in tournaments for the last 5 years, the focus will not be on the main striker.

    In the 2014 World Cup, the main striker was busy assisting and at the 2018 World Cup, the main striker also didn’t deliver the goods.

    One person has bailed Nigeria out in major tournaments, in big matches, in recent times: Ahmed Musa.

    Ahmed Musa’s reputation as a tournament player against big teams is fully established.

    It is to Ahmed Musa – not Ighalo – that I will turn my attention when I am looking for someone to cause problems (with his pace) and score in the big matches against big oppositions at a big stage.

    This may well be Ighalo’s final tournament for Nigeria. However, at the age of 29, if he keeps fit and has a fruitful tournament, he may yet be around for another 3 years.

    For that happen, Ighalo will need to continue scoring goals from where he left off in the Afcon qualifiers.

    If he doesn’t, we have Musa and others to step up to the plate. In Musa and others , our goal scoring eggs are definitely not just in Ighalo’s basket.