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  • Writer's picturetonyogaga

Ighalo: Why I dumped Al-Shabab for Al-Hilal

Super Eagles striker Odion Ighalo has revealed that he left Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab for their rivals Al Hilal because they did not allow him to go to the last Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Ighalo, who initially retired from international football after the last AFCON in 2019, returned to national team football action last year.

Upon his return, the 32-year-old was expected to be one of the major target men for Nigeria at the last AFCON, especially with the absence of Victor Osimhen and Emmanuel Dennis.

Ighalo’s quality was never in doubt, as he was in spectacular form for Al Shabab, scoring 13 goals in 19 appearances for his former employers.

However, he could not take his brilliant form to the AFCON, as Al Shabab blocked him from travelling to Cameroon.

The former Watford man explained that it was the main reason for his switch to Al-Hilal in January, as he and Al Shabab were not on good terms after they decided to hold him back.

“I was not happy with them(Al Shabab), and we decided to part ways because the Nations Cup that I didn’t go to caused a lot of bad blood,” Ighalo told ESPN.

“Four hours until my flight [to Cameroon], they had not sent me the exit visa. I called the team manager, and he told me they did not get an invitation. But I had a copy of the invitation that was sent because they copied me in the email.”

“We had all this back and forth going on, I changed the ticket to the next day, and then the third day, and they still did not send me the visa. At that point, I knew they did not want me to go.

“My anger was that they should have told me straight up, not smiling in my face one day and then acting a different way. That is why I decided to leave.” He added

Ighalo’s move to Al Hilal turned out to be a good move, as he helped his side reach the semifinals of the Club World Cup.

He will hope to return to the Supre Eagles squad when they trade tackles with Ghana in the crucial World Cup qualifier double-header next month.

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