On Tuesday, Nigeria’s provisional list for the upcoming AFCON tournament was released. The tournament which starts in June will feature Nigeria’s Super Eagles gunning for yet another AFCON title.
Barely a few hours old, Gernot Rohr’s list has got tongues wagging because of some of the players he selected. What’s a squad list announcement these days without a bit of some controversy, right? No squad list can satisfy all.
However, some inclusions can be so glaringly wrong that one wonders what the coach was thinking. Regardless of whatever reasons the manager/coach has for the inclusion, it’s never enough. Select players still look out of place whenever a squad list is announced for one tourney or the other.
When it comes to Nigeria’s provisional AFCON squad list, one name seems OBVIOUSLY out of place: Kelechi Iheanacho.
The Leicester City forward has now become a household name in the Super Eagles team. Asides being a regular feature for Nigeria in Russia, he played a pivotal role in helping Nigeria qualify for the AFCON tourney in Egypt.
However, there are so many metrics that disqualifies Iheanacho from being included in the Super Eagles squad list. It’s understandable that this is a provisional list. It will still be trimmed down. And that’s why the noise is loud now: Kelechi Ihenacho should not make Nigeria’s final list for Egypt 2019.
Here are two reasons why Kelechi Iheanacho is a wrong inclusion in this list:
1. A Non-Performer at Club Level
There are many reasons this can occur to any player.
For Iheanacho, it’s been all about playing second (if not third) fiddle to the main man in Jamie Vardy. In the 2018/2019 season, he played 931 minutes cumulatively. This is not bad for any player who is second choice.
On the average, he played 24.5 minutes per game in the season. One would have thought Iheanacho would have amassed a fair number of goals to his name during the time. However, the reverse is the case.
In 30 appearances this term, he scored only once, adding three assists to his name.
If the Super Eagles are off to Egypt for sight-seeing purposes, they can take this guy along. If Gernot Rohr is really serious about winning the AFCON title, Kelechi Iheanacho should not be on the plane to Egypt.
2. Not Enough Playing Time
Of the possible 3420 minutes that any player could amass in the Premier League, Kelechi Iheanacho could only manage 931. That’s 27% of the season spent on the pitch and 73% spent on the sidelines.
It’s understandable that it was hard for any manager to give a 22-year old preference over a 30-plus-year-old player. So, maybe it’s not Iheanacho’s fault that he didn’t get enough playing time. Furthermore, there may be other reasons why he moved from Manchester City to Leicester City.
However, should we be sympathetic to a player just because he plies his trade in the most-watched league in the world? Should he be preferred over others despite spending the bulk of his season on the bench?
Kelechi Iheanacho is just one of the many odd names on that list. Probably the ‘most odd’ name on the list. At this point, some will argue that it’s just the provisional squad. Some names will eventually be dropped.
There’s every reason for Kelechi Iheanacho to be dropped from the final list.
What do you think? Do you think Iheanacho can help Nigeria to yet another AFCON title? Leave us your comments and share your thoughts with us.
Author: For The Goal
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