As Nigeria gear up for their opening game at the 2018 World Cup in Russia one area fans of the team are not comfortable with is the area of goal scoring largely due to the not too impressive goal return of top striker Odion Ighalo.
Since making his debut for the senior national team of Nigeria in 2015, the 28 year old has only scored four goals in 18 games with the last of his goal coming in the 4-0 win over Cameroon in Uyo during the qualifiers for the World Cup.
In the seven games the team has played since the last time he scored, the Chanchug Yatai forward has fired blanks. That alone is enough reason for fans of the team to be worried, considering the fact that he will most likely lead the line for Nigeria at the World Cup.
His goal return is surprisingly less than that of Alex Iwobi who has played a game less but has 5 goals for the Super Eagles despite playing in a role farther away from the goal of the opponent than Ighalo .
Kelechi Iheanacho who has played as a top striker currently has 8 goals for the Super Eagles although two of the goals he scored against Togo can be waved aside as the game wasn’t recognise as a friendly game by world soccer governing body.
Furthermore Ighalo is also battling to break a jinx that has bedevilled the Nigerian team since the World Cup in 1994 as no player in the jersey number 9 shirt has found the back of the net since Rashidi Yekini netted Nigeria’s first goal at the World Cup in the shirt number.
Yekini wore same shirt number at the 1998 World Cup in France but he didn’t find the back of the net same as Bartholomew Ogbeche in 2002 and Obafemi Martins at the 2010 World Cup played in South Africa.
The last player to dorn the shirt number for Nigeria at the World Cup was Emmanuel Emenike at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and he also failed to get among the goal scorers for Nigeria in the four games they played.
Ighalo will be aiming to break the jinx even though his goal record as mentioned above isn’t the best going into a tournament in a shirt number which many believe has jinx past players dorning it.
Mohammed Mowiz Suleiman