The Super Eagles’ shock exit from the continental championships allows Nigerian players to return to their club earlier than anticipated
Ex-Rangers striker Ally McCoist has revealed he was disappointed that the Super Eagles did not reach the latter stages of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
But the former Scotland international could not hide his delight that Nigeria’s elimination makes Joe Aribo available for Rangers ahead of a crucial faceoff against bitter rivals Celtic.
Aribo was one of the Super Eagles’ leading performers during a comfortable group stage campaign where Nigeria won all their three matches, including a triumph over Mohamed Salah’s Egypt.
But despite earning a favourite tag with their quality displays, the three-time Afcon kings were unceremoniously dumped out of the competition by Tunisia in the first knockout round on Sunday.
Following their elimination, Aribo and his international teammates arrived in Nigeria on Monday, from where they headed to their various bases in Europe and South Africa.
Rangers host Livingston on Wednesday, but it is a clash that may come too early for the returning Aribo.
The 25-year-old will likely be in the Gers’ travelling squad to Ross County at the weekend. And Aribo will most certainly be available when Gio van Bronckhorst’s men take on rivals Celtic on February 2.
Only four points separate table-topping Rangers and second-place Celtic, and the potential availability of Aribo for that important contest delights McCoist more than Nigeria’s ouster from the Afcon.
“I’ve got to be brutally honest here, I sat and watched with my Algeria scarf on and I cannot lie to you, as disappointed as I was for Nigeria and Joe, I got over it very quickly,” McCoist was quoted by Ibrox News.
“He’s absolutely vital. He’s probably been one of the best players in the league so far this year.
“I think it would be very important for Rangers’ chances of retaining the title to have a fit and healthy Joe Aribo arrive safely back on these shores.”
Aribo has contributed six goals in 20 league appearances as Rangers bid to retain the Scottish Premiership title they won last year.