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Under-fire Ighalo apologies to Nigerians

Odion Ighalo says  he should not be made a scapegoat for  Nigeria’s   2-1 defeat by Argentina in their 2018 World Cup clash in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday, although he has partly  accepted  blame for  the Super Eagles’  failure to progress in the tournament.

he win earned the Lionel Messi-inspired La  Albiceleste  a place in the Round of 16 where they face France in Kazan on Saturday, while  the Eagles were bundled out of the tournament. Changchun Yatai forward Ighalo, who replaced Ahmed Musa, missed two sitters in the second half to deny his country a chance to progress.

Ighalo  has been subjected to a withering barrage of criticisms from the Nigerian media and fans in the social media  for his inability to beat River Plate goalkeeper  Franco Armani, who  started for Argentina in their must-win final group  clash for his team after under-fire  manager Jorge Sampaoli dropped his first choice   due to his horror mistakes against Iceland.

But the 29-year-old has fired back saying  he should not be crucified  for  Nigeria’s early exit from  the  tournament.

The former Watford striker said his teammates didn’t criticise him for  spurning the great opportunities   after the match.

“It’s sad  for me, it’s a sad day for the  boys, a  sad for  the country because  we went out in a bad  manner,  and we  were even  denied  a penalty,” Ighalo told reporters  at a post-match conference at the Mixed Zone.

“I missed a couple of chances that would have finished the game but that’s football because sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

“I take this upon me,  because if I had taken those chances I had, that would have been a different ball game now.”

He added,  “I apologise to my teammates and the country for missing the chances that came my way.

“I’m not happy that I missed those chances, it’s part of football and you have to move on.”

The player, who earns a reported £180,000 per week playing in the Chinese Super League, added, “If any of my teammates criticises  me for missing those chances, I will  accept the criticism and move on.

“Football is a team game and we have 23 players fighting for the same goal. Criticism is part of the game. If you don’t take criticisms, it means you are not doing your job well.”


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