Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has backed struggling Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho and insisted he still has a massive part to play at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Iheanacho, 22, made an immediate impact to the start of his senior international career, scoring seven goals in 11 matches.
But a combination of a loss of form and lack of confidence have left Iheanacho searching for his first international goal since scoring against Argentina in November 2017.
“We have all seen how Iheanacho has been playing for the national team. He is a good player and his fighting spirit is exceptional,” Rohr told newsmen in Nigeria.
“But of late, his form has dropped. So also has his self confidence, which is very low. And when you lack self confidence you cannot score goals,” said Rohr.
Nigeria booked their place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon with a draw against South Africa penultimate week, a match where Iheanacho had chances to score.
“He missed what would have been our first goal in South Africa. But I believe it is a temporary set-back.
“Iheanacho has a chance to regain his confidence with his club and play a big role for us in Cameroon,” Rohr added.
Iheanacho has 10 goals in 41 matches for Leicester City since joining from Manchester City in August 2017.
At international level, he has scored eight goals in 24 appearances for Nigeria since making his senior debut against Swaziland in November 2015.
He starred as Nigeria won the 2013 Fifa U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates for a record fourth-time and emerged as the tournament’s outstanding player, being voted the Most Valuable Player.
Iheanacho scored six goals to secure the Silver Boot as the competition’s second-highest goal-scorer.