AFCON 2021: Al-Shabab blame NFF for Ighalo's absence in Cameroon

The Saudi Arabian club has cleared the air on Ighalo's AFCON participation.

Odion Ighalo

Saudi Arabia Professional Football side Al-Shabab have stated that the Nigeria Football Federation is to blame for Odion Ighalo not being part of the Super Eagles team to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon.

The 32-year-old striker returned to the Super Eagles fold after a brief retirement from international football.

With Napoli's target man Victor Osimhen unable to participate at the AFCON, Ighalo was expected to feature more in the team.

However, he was not part of the team that departed to Cameroon for the competition with several reports stating he has been replaced by Feyenoord striker Cyriel Dessers.

Initial reports stated that Al-Shabab is a hindrance to Ighalo's participation at the AFCON.

Al-Shabab's director of professionalism, Majid Al-Marzouki, has given the club's view on the situation regarding Ighalo's participation at the AFCON.

According to Al-Marzouki, who was quoted by Arabic television news channel, Al Arabiya, the NFF is to blame as they did not send his invitation letter within the specified period.

The quote read; "We did not prevent the player from joining, but his invitation letter did not reach us within the period specified by FIFA for receiving the players' call-up letters.

"The FIFA Player Status Regulations stipulates that the local federation must notify the player and his club in writing of his summon 15 days before the start of the tournament, and it is advised to send a copy to the local federation of the club as well, which did not happen, and accordingly the coach told us that the player continues with us and will not join his team."

NFF spokesperson Ademola Olajire has explained that negotiations are still ongoing with Al-Shabab over Ighalo's participation at the AFCON.

He said; “The NFF has been talking with Al Shabab. We are both hoping for an amicable solution."

Al-Marzouki, however, debunked those claims by saying; "There are no negotiations between us and the Nigerian Federation, and the player is committed to the decision, the situation is settled."

Ighalo recorded five goals at the 2019 AFCON to win the tournament's, Golden Boot.

He has been in fine form for Al-Shabab who are second in the Saudi Arabian league.

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