Austin Ejide: Ready to solve Nigeria’s goalkeeping quandary


Goalkeeper Austin Ejide has been within the Nigeria squad at three World Cups

Goalkeeper Austin Ejide mentioned he’s in the most effective type of his profession as he started his bid for a Nigeria recall six years after his final look.

Tremendous Eagles coach Gernot Rohr is dealing with one thing of a goalkeeping puzzle forward of March’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers towards Sierra Leon.

First-choice Francis Uzoho is out of motion for a prolonged interval with a knee damage, whereas South Africa-based Daniel Akpeyi regardless of being essentially the most skilled keeper enjoying in the intervening time has struggled to persuade followers he’s the pure alternative.

Others in line embrace Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who many really feel lacks composure on the highest stage, whereas teenager Maduka Okoye is comparatively inexperienced.

Rohr has at all times maintained that the door stays open to any Nigerian enjoying often in a high flight and may make a optimistic contribution.

The 35-year-old, who made his worldwide debut virtually 20 years in the past, has performed all 21 matches for Israeli Premier League facet Hapoel Hadera this season, however has not performed for the Tremendous Eagles since 2014.

“I do know the state of affairs in Nigeria. I get optimistic remarks in Israel and being rated extremely might be one thing that may pave the best way,” Ejide advised BBC Sport.

“I’ve saved 9 clear sheets this season and everyone knows that goalkeepers at all times get higher with age.

“I’ve additionally been following the Eagles and I imagine that with my constant performances in Israel, there’s each probability it opens the door to the chances of one other call-up.”

Ejide made his Nigeria debut at simply 17 towards Namibia in Windhoek in 2001, however the next years noticed him play second fiddle to Vincent Enyeama.

Aside from a small interval in 2008 when then-coach Berti Vogts most well-liked him and Stephen Keshi gave him some recreation time, Ejide has by no means been the primary alternative for the Tremendous Eagles.

“I can by no means shut the worldwide door to play for Nigeria once more, I imagine I’ve what it takes to get one other probability,” he insisted.

He additionally says his age shouldn’t be a barrier to a return to worldwide soccer.

“There are different goalkeepers who by no means gave up on worldwide soccer regardless of their age or being ignored,” he insisted.

“At 46, Essam El-Hadary nonetheless performed a significant match for Egypt and I can hopefully comply with in that footsteps.

“I maintain specializing in membership soccer right here, the extra I do properly, then I’ll proceed to retain that hope of enjoying for my nation once more.”

Ejide has grow to be a cult hero in Hadera after serving to Hapoel Hadera to Israeli high flight promotion in 2018 ending their 39 years within the decrease leagues.

He beforehand performed within the nation for Hapoel Petah Tikva and Hapoel Be’er Sheva between 2009 and 2015, however that was after a stint at Tunisian facet Etoile du Sahel the place he suffered two successive Caf Champions League ultimate defeats in 2004 and 2005.

He left the North African nation after the Tunisian FA determined to not enable native golf equipment to signal overseas goalkeepers.

Ejide then spent three years at French membership SC Bastia earlier than shifting to Israel in 2009. He was a part of the Nigeria squad to the Africa Cup of Nations tournaments in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and after they received in 2013.

In addition to the 2013 Confederations Cup, he was additionally within the squad for the 2002, 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

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