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.
The 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 apologize 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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