Following the shocking retirement announcement by Victor Moses at the age of 27 years, five other Super Eagles players have been tipped to follow the footstep of the Chelsea FC star player by announcing their international retirement in the near future.
Echiejile has been a loyal servant to the national team since his time as a junior international in 2007, but despite a reinvigorated showing during the World Cup qualifiers, he lost his starting place to newcomer Brian Idowu.
Nigeria team (Back row L-R) Nigeria’s midfielder John Obi Mikel, Nigeria’s defender William Troost-Ekong, Nigeria’s defender Leon Balogun, Nigeria’s midfielder Victor Moses, Nigeria’s midfielder Joel Obi and Nigeria’s goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, (Front row L-R) Nigeria’s striker Odion Ighalo, Nigeria’s defender Shehu Abdullahi, Nigeria’s midfielder Alex Iwobi, Nigeria’s midfielder Ogenyi Onazi and Nigeria’s defender Bryan Idowu line up for a pre-game photograph ahead of the International friendly football match between England and Nigeria at Wembley stadium in London on June 2, 2018. / AFP PHOTO
Coach Gernot Rohr even played Tyrone Ebuehi at left back instead of Echiejile, leaving the Monaco man frustrated. With Ola Aina an additional younger option, it is looking like a bleak international future ahead for Elderson, who is still on the books of Monaco but does not appear to be in their long term plans after multiple loan deals.
At 30, and after 9 years, it looks gloomy for Echiejile who has 59 caps. Voluntary retirement could be the way to go.
Ighalo is usually a chatty character post game, and is almost always available to say a word or two in the Mixed Zone where players and media gather for quick interviews.
But after the final group game against Argentina, the forward politely declined comment as he made his way to the waiting bus.
Despite his powerful, athleticism and exceptional hold up play, the forward has taken flak from fans for his poor goal return in the green white green. Some of the post-World Cup comments have been especially vitriolic.
A junior international in 2009, it took Ighalo six years to make his senior breakthrough. Now 29, he is also on the wrong side of Rohr’s youth revolution, and could well decide that retirement is preferable to the aggravation despite being a late international bloomer.
After Carl Ikeme’s leukaemia diagnosis, Akpeyi was drafted into the squad and immediately leapfrogged previous back up goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa to start against Algeria in World Cup qualifying.
Akpeyi looked good and steady in a famous home win, and looked all set to be installed as the replacement to Ikeme.
That was until a disastrous performance against South Africa in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying last year. The Chippa United goalie followed that up with an error which led to an Argentina goal in a friendly in November.
From that point on, Rohr went in search of another goaltender, and any chance of Akpeyi starting a game began to dissipate quickly, ending in 19-year-old rookie Francis Uzoho winning the top job for the World Cup.
With Ezenwa the obvious backup after being trusted in qualifying and the likes of Dele Ajiboye and Dele Alampasu also in contention, it is hard to see how Akpeyi, at 32, can hope to be in contention for the top spot.
If he does not get a call up for next month’s AFCON qualifiers, that could signal the end of the road.
Before that friendly against England earlier this year, Onazi was one of three dead certain locks for the midfield starting spots along with captain Mikel Obi and Wilfred Ndidi.
But his below-par display against the Three Lions saw Oghnekaro Etebo slip in and steal his spot. Onazi did not see a single minute of action at the World Cup, and sources close to the team say that the midfielder was not a happy camper.
Despite being assistant captain, Onazi is said to have felt marginalised by the coach and disrespected by some of the newer players, especially during the 2017 game against South Africa when Mikel was absent.
Before the World Cup, there were also reports of a rift with captain Mikel, which were quickly doused. Those issues will need to be addressed if Onazi is not to join the retirement train.
Like Onazi, Ahmed Musa has not only suffered a series of indignities in the national team, but has also taken some undeserved fan criticism.
The forward dropped down the winger pecking order behind Victor Moses, Moses Simon, and Alex Iwobi, a humiliating put-down for a player who was team captain not so long ago.
In fact, if Henry Onyekuru and Moses Simon had not been hit by injury, Musa may well have missed out on the World Cup squad.
Musa swallowed the humiliation of calls to be dropped though, and fought his way back to become the Super Eagles’ World Cup hero.
So after winning the Africa Cup of Nations, then playing and excelling at two World Cup tournaments, Musa may have also grown weary of the international indignities and aggravation being meted out.
His move to Saudi Arabia could well be the first step to his international disengagement.
Credit to vanguardngr.com