African All Stars

Nigeria’s Afcon-bound Ighalo on target as Al Shabab edge out Al Ahli Saudi

09:35 WAT 02/01/2022
Odion Ighalo - Nigeria
The 32-year-old Super Eagle grabbed his 11th goal of the season to help his side bag maximum points at Prince Abdullah al-Faisal Stadium

Odion Ighalo continued with his fine run of form after notching the winner as Al Shabab beat Al Ahli Saudi 4-3 in a Saudi Pro League fixture on Saturday.

It was Al Shabab who took the lead in the match at Prince Abdullah al-Faisal Stadium when Mohammed Majrashi scored into his own net while trying to clear a cross from the right-wing in the 16th minute.

Argentina international Ever Banega then doubled Al Shabab’s lead in the 18th minute before the home team hit back with two quick goals courtesy of Haitham Asiri and Ezgjan Alioski, in the 39th and 44th minutes, respectively, to make the score 2-2 at the half-time break.

After the resumption, Al Ahli took the lead for the first time in the game when Abdulrahman Ghareeb beat Al Shabab goalkeeper Fawaz Al-Qarni with a low effort in the 53rd minute, but Hattan Bahebri levelled matters for Al Shabab in the 71st minute.

Three minutes later, Ighalo, who featured for the entire 90 minutes, sealed the game for the visitors when he dribbled past the Al Ahli defence before slotting the ball past the advancing goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais to secure maximum points for his side.

The former Manchester United striker has now scored 11 goals so far this season from 15 appearances and has raked in 1,350 minutes of action in the top-flight league.

The win enabled Al Shabab to cement their second position on the 16-team table with 31 points from 15 matches, one point fewer than leaders Al-Ittihad, who have played one match fewer.

This could be Ighalo’s last match for Al Shabab for a while as he is among the players summoned by Nigeria interim coach Augustine Eguavoen for the Africa Cup of Nations set to kick off on January 9 in Cameroon.

Apart from Ighalo, other forwards in the Super Eagles squad include Ahmed Musa, who turns out for Fatih Karagumruk in Turkey, Samuel Chukwueze of Spanish side Villarreal FC, Henry Onyekuru of Olympiacos FC in Greece, Moses Simon of FC Nantes in France, and Sadiq Umar of UD Almeria in Spain.

Others are Taiwo Awoniyi of Union Berlin in Germany, Kelechi Iheanacho of Premier League side Leicester City and Peter Olayinka of SK Slavia Praha in the Czech Republic.

The Super Eagles have been pooled in Group D of the continental finals alongside Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, and Sudan and they will open their campaign with a game against the Pharaohs at Roumde Adjia Stadium on January 11.