Monday Apr 26, 2021. 09:00
Nigeria national team coach Gernot Rohr says he is already well aware of the qualities of Simy Nwankwo and does not necessarily need to recall him to the Super Eagles.
The 28-year-old Nwankwo is enjoying a brilliant season in Serie A with Crotone, with his two goals in their 4-3 win over Parma this past weekend breaking a couple of notable records.
Nwankwo has now reached 19 league goals this season, a mark which eclipses the previous best tally (17, Yakubu Aiyegbeni for Blackburn Rovers in 2011-12) by a Nigerian player in a single campaign in the top five European leagues.
The Crotone player is now also the all-time top scoring Nigerian in Serie A history, with 29 goals in 77 appearances. This takes him past the previous mark of 28 goals from 88 games, set by Obafemi Martins.
Despite his superb form this season, Nwankwo is seemingly unlikely to be called for the Super Eagles when they begin their group stage qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in June.
This is because Rohr insists that Nigeria’s squad is already overflowing with striking talent and argues that Spain-based Sadiq Umar deserves a chance before Nwankwo.
“You know that I invited Simy already for the last World Cup, and he was with us in Russia, and he came in sometimes,” Rohr told Elegbete TV, as quoted by Soccernet.ng.
“Now we have so many strikers, unfortunately, we cannot play with five centre forwards, when you see the centre forwards we have already the competition is so big that it’s not easy for anybody to come in our team.
“We have [Paul] Onuachu, we have [Victor] Osimhen, we have Kelechi [Iheanacho], who scored and [is] going to the final of the FA Cup.
“We have also perhaps the comeback of [Odion] Ighalo, it could be interesting also. We have Sadiq Umar, who I invited, I wanted to see him for the first time last time, but his club did not release him.”
Rohr added, “Sadiq deserves also a chance – one of the best centre forwards in Spain, actually. Simy, I know him very well, and so I didn’t have to invite him again to know how he is.
“The last matches were the last opportunity also for me to see some new players because now we go to the World Cup and now will be too late to make experimentation. I know already Simy very well; he is a very good player.”
Nigeria open their Group C WCQ campaign with a match at home to Liberia in June, followed quickly by a trip to the Cape Verde Islands.