Riyadh: Odion Ighalo crashed to the Saint Petersburg turf, desolate. A Lionel Messi wonder goal had helped extinguish his FIFA World Cup dream.
Ighalo hadn’t even departed Krestovsky Stadium by the time he was obsessing over Qatar 2022. The Nigeria striker knew he’d be 33 at the time. He was desperate to be there.
And he was. Yet not in a capacity Ighalo could have ever imagined. The Lagos native was part of Nigeria squad that agonisingly lost on away goals to arch-rivals Ghana in a playoff for a place at the 22nd World Cup. Ighalo nevertheless travelled to Qatar to passionately support a country he had never even stepped foot in two years ago.
After a fruitful spell at Al Shabab, Ighalo crossed Riyadh to join Al Hilal in January 2021 – just days before they debuted in the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021. It was the start of a love affair between the player and the Saudi Arabian superpower.
FIFA+ caught up with Ighalo to discuss his goalscoring exploits, Al Hilal’s ambitious quest to beat the likes of Flamengo and Real Madrid to the Morocco 2022 trophy, the passion of his club’s fans, his admiration for Salem Al Dawsari, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe, and his Qatar 2022 experience.
Five Asian players who impressed at the FIFA Club World Cup
Dubai: The FIFA Club World Cup offers clubs from the across the world an opportunity to test their skills against the finest opponents from every continent, and over the years many an Asian player has left their mark in the competition.
With the next edition, where the continent will be represented by Al Hilal SFC in Morocco, fast approaching, the-AFC.com recalls five players who impressed in the competition.
Korea Republic's Bell aiming for deep run at global showpiece
Seoul: Head coach Colin Bell will leave no stone unturned in his bid to ensure Korea Republic enjoy an extended run in the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023.
The East Asian side will be appearing in their third consecutive FIFA Women's World Cup and fourth overall with their Round of 16 appearance in the 2015 edition their best return to date and Bell is determined to change that.
Kuala Lumpur: After just under five and a half years in charge, Park Hang-seo has stepped down from his role as Vietnam head coach following a period of unprecedented success for the Golden Star Warriors, both at senior and U-23 levels.
The Korean tactician has gained legendary status in the Southeast Asian country after bringing through a 'Golden Generation' of talent that excelled both at the regional and continental levels and took Vietnam to new heights in the football world.
While last week's 1-0 defeat to Thailand in the second leg of the 2022 AFF Cup final ultimately meant Park could not go out on a high following a 3-2 aggregate loss, he departs with his head held high after a remarkable spell of a side he took charge of in September 2017.