Austin Ejide, the former Super Eagles goalkeeper recently said that he’s been in a very good form and hopes to play for Nigeria once again, after a gap of six years.
Gernot Rohr, the Super Eagles coach, on the other hand, has been facing a hard time in the goalkeeping department of the Nigerian squad, ahead of the team’s Africa Cup of Nations 2021 Qualifiers in March, against Sierra Leone.
A great multitude of soccer betting portals, including the reputed kinds such as Betway Sports Betting are offering odds on that encounter, pitching Eagles as favourites to get the better of Sierra Leone.
Francis Uzoho, the first choice for the job isn’t available because of a knee injury, while Daniel Acte, the South Africa-based goalkeeper has been having a hard time in front of the net. The other probable choices for the Eagles’ goalkeeping job include the youngster Maduka Okoye, who many believe to be inexperienced and Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who has been found to lack composure in the big matches.
Rohr has always stressed that the doors are always open for any Nigerian footballer who is regularly involved in a top-flight club and is capable of making a positive contribution to the team.
Ejide, who played his first match for Nigeria almost 20 years ago, has been a part of all the 21 matches played by Hapoel Hadera, in the Israeli Premier League, however, he hasn’t been a part of the Nigerian squad since the last six years.
Talking to BBC Sport, he talked about being aware of the goalkeeping situation in Nigeria right now. He stressed that he’s been getting positive reviews in Israel and could potentially make a comeback to the Super Eagles. He further highlighted that he kept nine clean sheets in the ongoing season and everyone knows that goalkeepers get better as they age.
Following in the footsteps of Essam El-Hadary
Ejide made his Super Eagles debut when he was only 17 years old, in 2001, against Namibia. But the years that followed saw him as a second choice after Vincent Enyeama. Apart from a small time-period during 2008 when Berti Vogts, the then-coach gave him a start, and Stephen Keshi who favoured him too, he has never been the obvious choice for the job by the Eagles.
He believes that his age shouldn’t be taken as a barrier for his return to active international football, as he is sure of having all the capabilities to play for the team once again. Ejide gives the example of Essam El-Hadary who continues to play for Egypt, even at the age of 46.
At present, Ejide is totally focused on the club football games and is hopeful that the better he does there, he will always be in a chance to play for his country again.
In fact, the Nigerian goalie has become a sort of a legend in Hadera after helping their football club reach the Israeli top-flight tournament in 2018, bringing an end to their 39 years’ long wait.
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