The Super Eagles first team has been without Kelechi Iheanacho since the start of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations campaign
Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho’s absence from the Super Eagles team during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations has raised concerns in the football community, Soccernet.ng reports.
Nigeria, having played three group stage games against Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau, has not utilised the creative skills of Iheanacho—creating 41 chances, with 14 on target and only three goals scored in their last three group stage games.
It is important to note that the last five matches the prolific forward has participated in for the Nigerian national team, he has scored three goals and provided two assists, making him a significant player in the team.
However, we learned that heated exchanges between Iheanacho and coach Peseiro may be the reason for his limited playing time, causing him to miss the team’s last four matches.
Reports indicate that Peseiro, in asserting his coaching authority, may be prioritizing his stance over goal-scoring concerns, potentially affecting the team’s performance.
Iheanacho, initially included in the 25-man squad despite an injury, has recovered quickly and made himself available for selection in crucial games against Equatorial Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.
During the Guinea-Bissau match, where Nigeria only managed an own goal, Iheanacho was reportedly asked to play but declined due to the limited remaining time.
However, during the post-game interviews, the usual happy Iheanacho appeared unhappy, avoiding media interactions in the mixed zone.
Despite declaring fitness and showcasing good performance in training, the mystery surrounding Iheanacho’s exclusion from the first team since the tournament’s start remains.
It’s advised that Peseiro prioritizes the team’s success over personal issues with the England-based player as collective effort is crucial for a victorious campaign that would uplift the entire nation.
The 2013 AFCON champions has been slated to tackle Cameroon on Saturday for their Round of 16 clash, all eyes will be on Peseiro’s list to see if Iheanacho’s professionalism will be employed.