Soccer-Ighalo out for Nigeria after club refuse call-up

  • Football
  • Thursday, 06 Jan 2022

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations 2019 - Third Place Play Off - Tunisia v Nigeria - Al Salam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt - July 17, 2019 Nigeria's Odion Ighalo celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

(Reuters) - Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo will not play for his country at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon after his Saudi Arabian club refused to let him go, officials confirmed on Thursday.

Riyadh-based Al Shabab said his call-up from the Nigerian Football Federation had arrived after the deadline and they were therefore refusing to let him go, the Al Arabiya television channel reported.

“Forward Odion Ighalo is no longer expected as a result of issues with his Saudi Arabian club,” the Nigerian Football Federation added in a statement.

Nigeria also failed to send a call-up letter in time to Watford for striker Emmanuel Dennis, who is also not going to the tournament because his club refused to release him.

Countries must inform clubs of call-ups 15 days before the start of a tournament, according to FIFA regulations.

The 32-year-old Ighalo, who is a former Watford and Manchester United player, was the top scorer at the last Cup of Nations finals in Egypt where Nigeria reached the semi-final.

He tops the goalscoring charts in the Saudi Arabian league this season.

If the situation changes, Ighalo can compete after being included in the 28-man squad and handed the number nine jersey.

Nigeria’s squad arrived in Garoua on Thursday, where they held their first training session the same day. They play there against Egypt in their opening Group D match on Tuesday.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis)

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