AFCON 2023: Three reasons Iheanacho didn’t play against Cameroon


Nigeria’s performance in the tournament is closely watched, and the decisions regarding player selection are critical to their success.

The absence of Kelechi Iheanacho from the Super Eagles’ lineup during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, particularly in the match against Cameroon, has been a topic of much discussion in the football community.

Several factors could be contributing to this situation.


The Nigerian striker, who plays for Napoli, has been a pivotal force in the Super Eagles’ campaign, especially highlighted in their victory against Cameroon.


Tactical Decisions and Team Formation: The Super Eagles’ coach, Jose Peseiro, may be making tactical decisions that don’t include Iheanacho in the starting lineup or as a key player.

The team has been experimenting with various formations, such as a 3-4-2-1 or a 3-5-2 formation, which may not have a place for Iheanacho’s style of play. The focus seems to be on maintaining a strong defensive foundation while trying to revive a misfiring attack.

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Victor Osimhen has expressed his happiness with the win over Cameroon and insists the team has not played their best football.


Personal Issues and Coaching Decisions: There have been rumors of heated exchanges between Iheanacho and coach Peseiro, which could be affecting Iheanacho’s playing time. This kind of interpersonal issue, if true, could lead to a player being sidelined as the coach asserts authority and focuses on team harmony and discipline over individual talent.

Player’s Fitness and Readiness: While Iheanacho has declared himself fit and ready for action, and has been performing well in training, there might still be concerns from the coaching staff regarding his match fitness or suitability for specific game strategies.

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Moment of joy filled the Super Eagles dressing room after securing a comfortable win against rivals Cameroon.


During the Guinea-Bissau match, for instance, Iheanacho was reportedly asked to play but declined due to limited remaining time, indicating that there might be considerations about his match readiness or tactical fit at specific moments in a game.

It’s crucial for the team management to balance personal issues with the overall success of the team. As the 2013 AFCON champions, Nigeria’s performance in the tournament is closely watched, and the decisions regarding player selection are critical to their success.

These factors combine to paint a complex picture of why Iheanacho hasn’t been playing, involving tactical decisions, possible personal issues, and considerations about the player’s readiness and fit within the team’s current strategy.



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