Leicester City of England attacker, Kelechi Ihenaacho was on Saturday omitted from Nigeria’s final squad to this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, but the youngster’s name is resonating ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Senegal, due to a goal he scored against them in 2017.
Megasportsarena.com recounts that it was back in March just two years ago that Iheanacho, then plying his trade with Manchester City of England, scored a late penalty to deny The Teranga Lions victory against the Super Eagles in a similar friendly, which ended 1-1 at Barnet FC’s Hive Stadium in London.
Although Iheanacho will not be there this Sunday when both sides again clash in Ismailia, Egypt, the Senegalese will surely ask questions about the lad that struck an 82nd minute spot kick, after Moussa Sow gave The Teranga Lions a lead in the 53rd minute.
Before Iheanacho struck to save Nigeria’s blushes back then, Senegal were dominant in midfield, with Idrissa Gueye marshaling things, until Sow got a gift, when Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi dropped a lame looking corner kick into his path for the opening goal.
Dramatically, another highlight of the match reveals that Iheanacho did get two further glorious chances to score, and probably make it a 3-1 win for Nigeria and a hat-trick to his name, but he first scoffed a shot across goal from 18 yards and then clumsily struck wide from point blank.
Those efforts came before Iheanacho managed to redeem himself with eight minutes to go, after speedily latching onto a through-ball before being brought down by Pape Ndiaye, and then rose to convert the kick.
Sadly, Iheanacho, who could be remembered that day for his persistent running and all-round efforts, plus a similar goal against Argentina on November 14 2017, has dropped drastically in form, such that his exclusion from the Eagles’ AFCON 2019 list did not come as a surprise.
Consequently, Iheanacho was not there when the Eagles conducted their first training session since arriving in the Egyptian city of Ismailia early Monday morning for a one-week intensive final pre-AFCON camping.
At the airport to receive the contingent were the minister at Nigeria’s embassy in Cairo, Emmanuel Oguntoyi and administrative attaché, Muhammed Tukur Garba, who represented the Ambassador.
The Eagles then later had their first training session at a pitch within the premises of their lodgings at Hotel Mercure, starting at 5pm on Monday (4pm Nigeria time), as they commenced plans to tango Senegal in their final friendly match before AFCON 2019.
Nigeria will play their first match on June 22 in Alexandria against the debuting Burundi’s Itamba Ru Mugamba, before taking of Guinea’s Syli Nationale and Madagascar’s Barea in Group B, all in the Alexandria venue of the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations.