Nigeria forward Odion Ighalo has warned his Super Eagles’ teammates not to let their standard drop when they face Zambia’s Chipolopolo in their Group B Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier in Uyo on October 7.
Nigeria, who lead the group on 10 points, can qualify for their sixth World Cup with a win against the East Africans, who are second in the table on seven points. But any bad result could give Zambia a realistic chance of winning the race to Russia.
But Ighalo, who plies his trade in the Chinese Super League with Changchun Yatai, where he earns a reported £180,000 per week, says the Eagles must pull together to land the sole ticket in the group.
The former Watford star, who scored the first goal in the 4-0 pounding of African champions Cameroon in Uyo on August 31, is one of the players named by Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr in his 23-man squad on Tuesday for the clash against Chipolopolo.
And Ighalo is happy Rohr has kept faith with him by including him in his squad for the encounter and vowed to give his best.
“I’m happy to be called up again because it’s always a great honour to play for my country,” BBC Sport quoted the 28-year-old former Granada striker as saying.
“We know Zambia are a strong team and they will come with full determination in Uyo, we cannot not engage in irrelevant pre-match talking but deliver on the pitch.
“I’ve never played at the World Cup and like my other colleagues we all want to be in Russia, this is like a final for us.”
Rohr stuck with the squad for the qualifying double-header against Cameroon.
England-based players Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa, Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ola Aina made the squad alongside Mikel Obi, Ighalo, Ogenyi Onazi, Leon Balogun and William Ekong.
Arsenal attacker Iwobi withdrew from the qualifying double-header against Cameroon due to injury.
Former Burkina Faso coach Rohr, who dropped Dutch-born Tyronne Ebuehi and Portugal-based goalkeeper Dele Alampasu to the standby list, omitted Turkey-based defender Kenneth Omeruo from the squad.
Akwa United duo Ifeanyi Ifeanyi and Afeez Aremu, who helped Nigeria to finish second at the 2017 WAFU Cup in Ghana on Sunday, are also on the standby list along with CSKA Moscow’s Aaron Samuel.