Odion Ighalo, Watford FC of England and Super Eagles striker, says it will be very painful to watch the 2017 African Cup of Nations at home.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have not qualified for AFCON since winning the tournament in 2013.
“Its going to be very painful for Nigerians and as well the Super Eagles players to watch the AFCON 2017 at home,” Ighalo told TheCable.
“Nigeria is one of the big guns in football and missing the second AFCON in a row is even more painful. What we’ll have to do is to keep working hard to ensure that we qualify for the next AFCON.
“For me, It’s a privilege for me to be called upon to play for my nation. So, I’ll always honour my country.”
He expressed optimism that Nigeria would qualify from the so-called “group of death” for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“We are happy about our performance so far in the world cup qualifiers so far but we’ve not qualified yet,” he said.
“This is not putting pressure on us rather it’ll spur us more to keep fighting or to keep believing in ourselves to keep winning. Right now we are top of the group, if we can win one more game and draw one, it means we are already through to the World Cup.”
On club matters, Ighalo said his inability to replicate his splendid goal-scoring form of last season in the English Premier League was not a serious source of concern for him or his manager.
“There’s no issue or situation between me and my manager in Watford,” he told TheCable.
“It’s just all about me to keep working hard and giving my best whether I start a game or not. You know, sometimes life is full with ups and downs. Things might not go the way you plan or want it to be. That does not mean you’ll have to stop working.
“What you need to do is to keep working harder. I’ll keep working harder so as to consolidate on that later. Yes, last season went well for me scoring goals but it’s not happening for me yet this season but I believe the goals will still come.”
Ighalo said he had gone through lots of personal problems but that was no excuse.
“I am trying to get myself back, I think I’ll hit the ground running again. This is just first half of the season,” he continued.
“I am working very hard and I believe the goals will come soon. But the coach can use who ever he wants to use and I know that I am still a first-eleven team player for Watford.
“I have four years contract with Watford FC, I am doing well and I am happy here but you never can tell what will happen in the future”.
Ighalo also clarified comments attributed to him about John Obi Mikel, captain of the Super Eagles, joining Watford from Chelsea.
“I never said my club manager should sign Mikel Obi,” he said.
“I was on the EPL Fan zone TV programme in London where a fan called in to say Mikel is not playing in his club right now and that if I have the opportunity to play with him in the same team in England, will I like it?
“The question is who won’t like not to play with Mikel? Mikel is my captain in the national team, he is a good player, he has achieved a lot of wonderful things playing for Chelsea.
“Yes, of course. He is a good player. Even if it’s not in Watford or any club, it’ll be a great thing and opportunity to play alongside him in the same team. It’s a great shock to me to now see all over the media the next day that I want my manager in Watford to sign him.”