Shanghai Greenland Shenhua of China striker, Odion Jude Ighalo has been recognised as one of the oldest players in Nigeria’s national team, and he will now serve as second vice-captain of the team at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
While John Mikel Obi remains Nigeria’s captain for the event in The Land of The Pharaohs, Ighalo will deputise along with Al-Nassr of Saudi Arabia attacker, Ahmed Musa, who will continue as first vice-captain, with Udinese of Italy defender, William Troost-Ekong also in the roll call.
A report by owngoalnigeria.com revealed that the four players will share the armband among themselves during the tournament, based on their spots in the starting line up or presence on the pitch after substitutions.
Ighalo is now rated ahead of two other alternate captains in the Eagles’ m,ainframe, John Ugochukwu Ogu and Leon Aderemi Balogun, who both got to the team before him, but his relevance to the squad is now quite obviously much ahead of both, despite his current battles with fitness.
While Balogun, who made his debut for the Eagles before the Brazil 2014 World Cup, is no longer assured of a starting spot in the Nigerian team, Ogu, who doned the band in an exhibition match against Liberia last year, is considered only as an impact player in the squad.
However, one of three surviving members of Nigeria’s AFCON 2013-winning squad, Kenneth Omeruo has been completely left out of the picture in the Eagles’ captains’ roll call.
While the Eagles’ captains’ clan is led by the other two survivors, Mikel and Musa, Omeruo has been overlooked, despite now looking good for a regular starting spot in Egypt, following his breathtaking revival in his debut season with Leganes in Spain’s top-flight league, La Liga.
The 25-year-old defender was an important part of Nigeria’s squad in winning the South Africa 2013 tournament, after he replaced then captain, Joseph Ikpo Yobo in the Eagles’ second game against Zambia.
After excelling in that game, which ended 1-1, Omeruo kept his place till the end of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the dark-skinned stopper, who was discovered during the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria and is on loan from Chelsea of England, is back to top from.
On the other hand, Musa, who played at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia, was one of the youngest players in the squad when the Eagles won the AFCON title six years ago, at South Africa 2013.
Nonetheless, Nigeria’s undisputed captain for Egypt 2019 and midfield enforcer is 32-year-old Mikel, who made his debut in August 2005 and the ex-Chelsea midfielder hopes to add his 87 caps, as Nigeria’s third all-time leading appearances holder.