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Iheanacho lost his AFCON’s place due to low self-esteem, says Lawal


Kelechi Iheanacho / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Former International, Garba Lawal has ascribed Kelechi Iheanacho’s exclusion from the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) team to Egypt to his casual approach to his football career, adding that he needs to revive himself by being more committed and aggressive in his approach to his game.

Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr dropped Iheanacho from his 23-man squad among others from his list on Sunday. The coach had explained that his close monitoring of the players had informed his decision.

Lawal, who said he was not in anyway surprised over Rohr’s decision, declared that the talented player did not do himself a favour with his laid back attitude in his club, which he said may have influenced his omission from the team to AFCON.


“I think he didn’t expect Rohr to drop him from the team to AFCON; but many of us saw it coming. We knew it was going to happen unless something different happened. At this moment, he has to pick up the pieces and return to the normal Iheanacho that people know.

“With English man, Jamie Vardy and Japanese, Shinji Okazaki I knew it was going to be difficult for Iheanacho to pick a shirt from either of these two players. But his nemesis had been this lack of fighting spirit, which should not be lacking in an attacker. And for him to reclaim his place in the Eagles he has to go back to his club and fight for his shirt,” he said.

Lawal, who is currently the coach of Real Stars of Kaduna, added, “When Manuel Pellegrini was Manchester City’s coach, Iheanacho was playing more, and scoring goals. But as soon as Pep Guardiola took over, things changed. But because every coach has his own philosophy, Iheanacho was offloaded to Leicester City where I thought he should be playing regularly but that didn’t happen.

“At Leicester, to me, he did not fight enough to deserve a place in his club, likewise in the Eagles. Now, he has to return to the club and work harder in order to find more playing time. He must realize that as a black man he needs to push and take advantage of any opportunity that comes his way,” Lawal stated.

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