The former Manchester United striker had an underwhelming performance in his first game for the three-time African champions in almost three years, but the German tactician believes he will improve with time
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has defended Odion Ighalo’s performance in Nigeria’s 1-1 draw against Cape Verde on Tuesday evening.
Ighalo played his first game for Nigeria in almost three years after initially retiring from international football following the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
However, the Al-Shabab, who partnered with Victor Osimhen up front, has a below-par performance, missing some chances that could have handed Nigeria the win.
Ighalo’s return had caused controversy, and he did not strengthen his case with his performance at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Nonetheless, Rohr believes the former Watford striker did very well, considering he has been away from the team for almost three years.
“We need a little patience with Ighalo,” Rohr told the media after the game.
“He was not with us for more than one year, and we need time to find the harmony, and I think he did some interesting things with Osimhen, who will grow and learn a lot.”
The draw against Cape Verde secured Nigeria’s place in the CAF 2022 World Cup qualifiers playoff rounds with the other nine group winners.
The playoffs will see Nigeria take on one of the group winners in a two-legged knockout.
The three-time African champions will find out their opponent on December 18, but Rohr said the focus of the team is now on the Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off in Cameroon in less than two months.
“Now for the AFCON, we can prepare. Today was like a final, very special game so what we ask for is little patience, give us a little time to work on the two of them, then the goals will come again,” he added.
Nigeria have been drawn alongside Egypt, Guinea-Bissau and Sudan in their group.