Guardiola halts Ihenacho’s Olympic dream

Daily Trust - - SPORT -

Kelechi Iheana­cho will miss the Olympics be­cause new Manch­ester City man­ager Pep Guardiola wants him to stay at the English club for pre-sea­son training.

The 19-year-old striker was se­lected in Nige­ria’s 35-man pro­vi­sional squad for the foot­ball tour­na­ment at next month’s Games in Rio de Janeiro.

That was de­spite the fact that City had written to the Nige­rian Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion to tell them that Iheana­cho would not be avail­able, and had a let­ter back ac­knowl­edg­ing that de­ci­sion.

The for­ward has in­di­cated that he would love to play at the Games given the chance, but his club have made clear that their stance has not changed.

Go­ing to Brazil for the Olympics for the foot­ball tour­na­ment, which takes place be­tween Au­gust 3 and 20, would have re­sulted in him miss­ing the open­ing weeks of the Premier League sea­son.

City be­lieve that he will ben­e­fit more from spend­ing a full pre­sea­son work­ing with Guardiola as he seeks to es­tab­lish him­self as a first-team reg­u­lar at the Eti­had Sta­dium.

Iheana­cho, who joined City from the Taye Academy in his na­tive Nige­ria in Jan­uary 2014, broke into the club’s se­nior side last sea­son and scored 14 goals in 35 ap­pear­ances in all com­pe­ti­tions.

His dis­plays have seen him move above Wil­fried Bony, the ex­pe­ri­enced Ivory Coast in­ter­na­tional, in the peck­ing or­der.

Speak­ing at a fan event at City’s Academy Sta­dium, Iheana­cho said: “If your coun­try wants you to play for them you surely have to do so, but it’s not up for me to de­cide. I don’t know if they have de­cided- my team and my coun­try, I don’t know if they have con­cluded or not.”

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