Nigeria

Getty Images

VIDEO: Ighalo scores amazing solo goal for Man United v. LASK

Leave a comment

Odion Ighalo is playing for the club he loves and he scored a superb solo goal for Man United v. LASK in the Europa League.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Ighalo picked up the ball on the edge of the box, juggled the ball past a couple of defenders to work some space and then rifled home off the crossbar and in.

There was no crowd to witness it as the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg game was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak. Odion Ighalo may not score a better goal in a Man United shirt.

Click play on the video below to see the Nigerian striker score his fourth goal in eight outings for Man United since his loan move from China in January.

With goals like this, surely  Ighalo’s loan will made into a permanent move in the summer?

More coronavirus connections to soccer:

Ighalo: I spent my lunch money on watching Man United

Getty Images
1 Comment

Odion Ighalo is leaving his dream at Man United.

The Nigerian striker, 30, joined United on loan on transfer deadline day in January in a shock move as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scrambled around for a forward after Marcus Rashford was injured.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Ighalo has made an immediate impact at United, scoring in the Europa League win against Club Brugge last week and then twice in the FA Cup win at Derby County this week.

Speaking to our partners Sky Sports ahead of the Manchester Derby on Sunday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com), Ighalo revealed that where he grew up in Ajegunle was “like a ghetto and it was very difficult” but he saved up his lunch money for school so he could watch Man United when the weekend arrived.

“I know many footballers say that, when they sign for a team, this is my dream team. Respect to that but my own case was different,” Ighalo explained. “Anyone who knows me back from when I was young knows me and my siblings supported Man United, we would pay to go and watch Man United play. In Nigeria, you have to have sports channels to watch that but not everyone can afford it. My parents couldn’t afford that so you have to pay a viewing centre to watch that. We would pay to watch that.

“You start saving the money they would give you to go to school. You would eat at home and they would give you some pocket money to go to school and maybe eat lunch there. But you would be saving it bit by bit and when you get to the weekend, everybody is ready. You have your jersey and you wash it before the weekend. You put them on and go to the viewing centre and it’s crazy there. Some other fans want Man United to lose then you’re a Man United fan and you want them to win and you start arguing, shouting, screaming and all of that.”

Ighalo said up to 500 people would cram into a room to watch United and added that he cannot believe his luck to be playing at Old Trafford: “It is the happiest moment of my life, playing for my dream team, the team I supported when I was young.”

Given his good form in cup competitions and that he’s made a difference coming off the bench in recent games at Chelsea and Everton, Ighalo may not start against Man City but if he jumps off the bench late in the game, now you may understand why he has that little extra motivation to play for Man United.

Manchester United seals surprising loan for Odion Ighalo

Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Some surprising moves catch your eye in a, “Wow! What a capture!” way. See FC Cincinnati possibly luring Jurgen Locadia away from Brighton.

Others, not as much.

On the surface, Odion Ighalo‘s reported loan move to Manchester United sits firmly in the latter category.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

The 30-year-old is available due to the coronavirus-inspired suspension to the start of the Chinese Super League season, and supported United as a youngster.

Sky Sports says the move includes an option to buy.

Ighalo has lit up the CSL in his three seasons between Changchun Yatai and Shanghai Shenhua, and has 16- and 20-goal Premier League seasons on his resume.

He’s also scored sixteen times in 35 caps for Nigeria, including five in this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations.

So there’s reason to believe he can still perform at the PL level, even given his poor final half-season at Watford.

Maybe this comes down to the change in perception at Manchester United. Is it a new normal or a temporary normal to see one of the world’s richest and powerful clubs unable to buy a striker?

It mahy sound silly for United to chase Ighalo’s signature, but they need a striker and Ighalo has been regularly bagging goals. It’s been less than a half-decade since he scored 20 in the league.

Maybe it’s not so insane?

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Senegal, Nigeria stay perfect in African Cup qualifying

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Famara Diedhiou scored a hat trick in a game interrupted by heavy rain as Senegal beat Eswatini 4-1 on Sunday for two wins out of two in qualifying for the 2021 African Cup of Nations.

Diedhiou missed an early penalty and it was 0-0 at halftime when Senegal coach Aliou Cisse substituted Sadio Mane.

Diedhiou netted all three of his goals in a nine-minute period from the 59th to keep this year’s African Cup runner-up on course in the final stage of qualifying for the 2021 tournament. Badou Ndiaye scored Senegal’s fourth in Manzini against the kingdom formerly known as Swaziland.

Senegal lost to Algeria in the final of this year’s African Cup of Nations in Egypt and is embarking on another attempt to win the continental title for the first time.

Like Senegal, Nigeria has also won its first two of six games in the qualifiers’ decisive group stage after the Super Eagles benefited from an outstanding performance by forward Victor Osimhen in a 4-2 win over Lesotho. Osimhen scored twice and set up the other two as Nigeria again came from behind to win, like it did in its opening qualifier.

South Africa beat Sudan 1-0 with a goal by Lebogang Phiri for its first win of the qualifiers after losing to Ghana first up. Cameroon, which will host the 2021 African Cup, also registered a first win by beating Rwanda 1-0. Midfielder Ngoumo Ngamaleu scored in Cameroon’s first competitive win under new coach Toni Conceicao and first in six games.

Cameroon has already qualified as host but is still taking part in qualifying. The top two teams in each of the 12 groups will qualify with the exception of Cameroon’s group. There, the highest-placed of the other three teams – currently Mozambique – goes through to the 24-team finals which will be played in mid-2021.

Guinea and Mali sit in the qualifying positions in Group A – Mali won 2-0 in Chad and Guinea 2-0 at home to Namibia. There were also wins on Sunday for Uganda, Benin, Republic of Congo and Gabon.

Senegal, Nigeria win in African Cup qualifying

Getty Images
2 Comments

Senegal and Nigeria started with wins on the first day of the final stage of qualifying for the 2021 African Cup of Nations on Wednesday.

Senegal was comfortable in a 2-0 victory over Republic of Congo, and Nigeria less so when it came from behind to edge Benin 2-1.

Senegal opened its qualifying campaign less than four months after losing to Algeria in the final of this year’s African Cup in Egypt. Sidy Sarr and Habibou Diallo sealed the win over Congo in Group I with first-half goals. Sadio Mane also played.

Semifinalists at this year’s African Cup, the Nigerians made a fumbling start to the decisive group stage when they went behind in the third minute at home in Uyo to Stephane Sessegnon‘s goal following a defensive error. Victor Osimhen converted a penalty on the brink of halftime and Samuel Kalu scored the winner in the second half to put three-time African champions Nigeria top of Group L.

The result provided some relief for Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr, whose relationship with the Nigeria Football Federation has become uneasy since failing to make the African Cup final in Egypt.

Cameroon, the 2021 host, was held 0-0 at home by Cape Verde to draw another blank under new coach Toni Conceicao, the second goalless draw in two games under Conceicao. Cameroon has already qualified as host but is playing in qualifying for match practice. The Cameroonians couldn’t find the target again in their Group F opener after a 0-0 draw against Tunisia in the Portuguese coach’s first game in charge a month ago. Conceicao replaced former Netherlands international Clarence Seedorf, who was fired after Cameroon’s title defense at this year’s African Cup in Egypt ended with a round of 16 defeat by Nigeria.

The top two in each group will qualify for the 24-team finals except in Cameroon’s group, where just one other team will make it through. The qualifiers run until November next year.

African champion Algeria starts its campaign on Thursday against Zambia. Egypt plays Kenya the same day and the Pharaohs will be without Mohamed Salah for that game and Monday’s meeting with Comoros, the Egyptian Football Association said, because of an ankle injury. Salah has been wearing a protective boot on his left foot while sitting out training with Egypt.

New coach Hossam el-Badry, a former Egypt player, will take charge of his country in a competitive game for the first time against Kenya as the team moves on from the bitter disappointment of not even making the quarterfinals at their home tournament this year. That failure led to the departure of coach Javier Aguirre and the resignation of the entire EFA board.

There were also wins in Wednesday’s qualifiers for Namibia, Malawi, Sudan, Gambia, Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau. Sudan provided the most resounding result with a 4-0 rout of 10-man Sao Tome and Principe.

Sierra Leone and Lesotho drew 1-1 in an eventful game in an empty stadium in Freetown. Sierra Leone was ordered by FIFA to play the game behind closed doors as punishment for fans misbehaving in a game against Liberia in September, when they threw objects and invaded the field.

Kwame Quee gave Sierra Leone the lead with 20 minutes to go. Thabantso Jane equalized in injury time and after both teams had a man sent off. Lesotho captain Marepe Basia was given a second yellow for his foul on George Davies in the final 10 minutes. Davies was sent off for retaliating.

More AP soccer https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports