Former Super Eagles goalkeeper and ex-assistant coach, Ike Shorunmu has expressed sympathy with Odion Jude Ighalo over the injury copped by the Shanghai Shenhua of China striker during the third place match of the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, adding that long distance flights from his base must have caused his national team retirement.
The hamstring complaint that hit Ighalo towards the end of the first half of Nigeria’s 1-0 win against Tunisia, in which he scored the game’s only goal, has now knocked the striker out for two months, and Shorunmu acknowledged that it is one of the reasons why the star retired from the Eagles few days after emerging AFCON 2019 top scorer with five goals.
While also noting how John Mikel Obi equally announced his retirement from the Eagles at about the same time, Shorunmu pointed out during Mega SDports on Star 101.5 FM, Lagos that the long distance flights Ighalo has to embark on from his base in China to honour national team invitations must have also played a key part in his decision.
The ex-keepers’ trainer, who starred for Stationery Stores FC of Lagos, Shooting Stars of Ibadan, FC Zurich of Switzerland and Besiktas of Turkey during his heyday, added that long distance flights cause discomfort in muscles of players and could aggravate situations of injuries, which may have informed Ighalo’s option to call it quit, now that he is older.
However, despite reasoning in that direction, Shorunmu still admitted that hearing about Ighalo’s retirement was a big surprise to him, as it came a little earlier than expected, unlike the case of Mikel, who had been close to the Eagles’ exit door right at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Shorunmu stated: “The case of Mikel was not so much of a surprise, unlike that of Ighalo, who I felt could still carry on till 2012.
“I think the difficulty of travelling a long distance from China to Nigeria may have caused him to think about ending his national team duties.
“He is getting older and the chances of getting injuries are higher. That can be made worse with long distance flights from China.”