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Shenhua’s Ighalo punished over social media use

Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo was top-scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations. © AFP / Giuseppe CACACE

SHANGHAI, China, Aug 9Odion Ighalo will be sanctioned by his Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua after the Nigerian striker angered fans with his social media posts while out injured.

The 30-year-old former Watford star has not played for Shenhua for three months because of injury, the Africa Cup of Nations, then a reported knee problem.

Ighalo has been having treatment in Spain but social media posts while there irked the club and fans, some of whom accused him of trying to engineer a move and spending more time relaxing than recovering.

The pictures and videos appear to have been deleted.

“This incident caused great concern to domestic media and fans, causing serious adverse social impact,” Shenhua said in a statement on the Twitter-like Weibo.

Shenhua, who recovered from a poor opening half of the Chinese Super League season and now sit 12th of 16 teams, added that they “attached great importance to this matter.

“(The club) criticised and educated Ighalo immediately and asked him to put all his energy into his rehabilitation and the club.”

Ighalo will be “punished according to the team’s regulations”, the statement said, without giving specifics.

Ighalo, who played in the Premier League in 2014-2017, saw his former Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores sacked by Shenhua last month.

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The Spaniard was replaced by the South Korean Choi Kang-hee, who has overseen an immediate improvement — despite Ighalo being missing.

The forward hit five goals and was top scorer at last month’s Africa Cup of Nations, where Nigeria finished third.

Carlos Tevez, the Argentine striker, spent 12 troubled but highly lucrative months at Shenhua before returning to Boca Juniors in January 2018.

Ighalo has seven goals in nine CSL matches this season.

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