Majid Al-Marzouki, Al-Shabab’s director of professionalism, has insisted that the Saudi Arabian club did not block Ighalo from linking up with the Nigeria squad for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
The former Manchester United striker reversed his decision to retire from international football in November 2021 but Al-Shabab will not release their star player for the tournament in Cameroon because the Nigeria Football Federation sent his invitation letter late, not within the period specified by FIFA for sending players’ call-up letters, according to Al-Marzouki.
Ighalo has been in brilliant form for Al-Shabab since the start of the 2021-2022 campaign, scoring eleven goals in the Saudi Pro League, and the club were desperate to keep hold of their talisman by any means necessary.
Interim Super Eagles boss Augustine Eguavoen is now facing a striker crisis with his top three players in the pecking order of center forwards, Victor Osimhen, Ighalo and Paul Onuachu, not available for selection at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Al-Marzouki explained on Wednesday “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”.
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He concluded by saying that Al Shabab are not negotiating with the Nigerian Federation over the release of Ighalo for the Africa Cup of Nations.
“There are no negotiations between us and the Nigerian Federation, and the player is committed to the decision, the situation is settled”.
Ighalo was the Golden Boot winner at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with five goals to his name.
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