The Six Strikers Who Can Replace Physical Ighalo As Super Eagles Number 9Published: July 21, 2019
Following Nigeria's third place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, striker Jude Odion Ighalo shocked Nigerian football faithful by announcing his international retirement after team captain John Mikel Obi announced his own expected retirement after 14 years service to the country.
Izuchukwu Okosi in this piece examines the best candidates from a lot to take up the role as the Eagles target another AFCON qualification in 2021 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
1. Victor Osimhen
Osimhen was only in action for 45 minutes at the just concluded AFCON, the third place final against Tunisia.
He will be a threat for defences especially in aerial duels.
Perhaps the record top scorer at the FIFA U-17 World Cup with 10 goals needs to add some more physicality to his game as alluded to by Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr.
2. Stephen Odey
The former MFM striker who has moved to Belgian Pro League champions KRC Genk from Swiss side FC Zurich scored 10 goals in 32 matches for his former club last season.
Odey is technically good, has got lethal shots in his arsenal and can offer some physical presence that Ighalo did.
3. Anthony Nwakaeme
The popular cliché in football that a player/team is as good as their last match continues to be a feature of this piece.
Trabzonspor of Turkey striker Anthony Nwakaeme scored 10 league goals in 27 matches last season and played against tough strikers in the competitive Turkish top flight.
Nwakaeme's strength and experience could be vital in the Eagles going forward.
4. Simy Nwankwo
Scoring 14 goals in 33 Serie B matches should not be scorned at and Nwankwo will be an invaluable part of the Super Eagles if Rohr trusts him enough.
The beanpole striker was in Nigeria's 2018 World Cup squad after showing great qualities in friendlies prior to the tournament but he has not played for the team afterwards.
5. Paul Onuachu
The FC Midtjylland of Denmark striker scored a memorable goal, a wonder strike within a minute against Egypt in an international friendly in March and perhaps sealed his place in Nigeria's AFCON squad.
The striker wasn't at his predatory best when he got his chance at the Nations Cup but nonetheless the talent is obvious. He scored 17 league goals in 30 league games last season.
6. Taiwo Awoniyi
The Liverpool-owned striker Taiwo Awoniyi is one of coach Imama Amapokobo's key players in the U-23 Eagles but he could also be an important member of the Super Eagles in few years time.
Verdict: The Super Eagles may have top strikers in their fold when the next AFCON hold in Cameroon in 2021 or at the FIFA World Cup in 2022 in Qatar.
However at the moment, in few months time when qualifiers begin before those big tournaments, our top picks in the absence of Ighalo would be the aforementioned for either their experience, goals return or physical attributes.
We are by no means saying other Nigerian players do not deserve a place in the team.
Next season could present us a player who takes the world by storm.
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