Ex-Internationals react to Iheanacho’s exclusion from AFCON


Two ex-Internationals have reacted to the exclusion of Super Eagles forward Kelechi Iheanacho from the 23-man squad for the 2019 AFCON scheduled for Egypt.

Former Eagles midfielder Friday Ekposays the player must redouble efforts to regain his playing ability.

Ekpo, who spoke in Lagos, insisted that the player should move to a club where he would enjoy more player time to enhance his game and regain his confidence.

“Iheanacho is a fantastic player who still has more years ahead of him in football; he should evaluate himself and what the problem is.

“He needs to exit his current club and seek an alternative where he will have more playing time to up his game as a player.

“Missing the Nations cup is not the end of the world; he is still young and could play in subsequent AFCON and even the World Cup if he puts his house in order.

“Nigerians should please support and encourage him at this period in time; enough of these negative words. What he needs most is our encouragement to get back better,” he said.

No surprise

Former striker Edema Fuludu said the exclusion of Super Eagles striker. Kelechi Ihenacho from the 23 man list by Coach Gernot Rohr didn’t come as a surprise to him.

“I wasn’t surprised really, he’s not in his best form, and if you are not in form there is nothing anyone can do about it.

“I believe the coach gave it serious thought; why take a player who is struggling when you have those that are in top form.

“He needs to give players fair opportunity, Ihenacho being on the list would have come as a shock to many,” he noted.

Fuludu said the coach had earlier made it clear that players performance at club level will determine players inclusion in the AFCON list, so Iheanacho stood no chance.

“Kelechi has not been fantastic, but this happens to players at some point in their career, it’s just sad that it came at a time when he would have been valuable to the team if he was in great form,” he said.

Iheanacho and Semi Ajayi failed to make coach Gernot Rohr’s team for the Africa Cup of Nations competition scheduled to commence on June 21.

Iheanacho, a member of the 2013 Nigeria U-17 FIFA World Cup winning team, struggled for regular playing time in English Premier League in his club, Leicester City, during the 2018/2019 season.

Nigeria, three -time African Champions, are drawn in Group B of the continental tournament, with Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar which kicks on June 21.