Ejide eyes return to Eagles after 6yrs

Goalkeeper Austin Ejide said he is in the best form of his career as he began his bid fora Nigeria recall six years after his last appearance.

Super Eaglescoach Gernot Rohr is facing something of a goalkeeping puzzle ahead of March’s2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sierra Leon.

First-choiceFrancis Uzoho is out of action for a lengthy period with a knee injury, whileSouth Africa-based Daniel Akpeyi despite being the most experienced keeperplaying at the moment has struggled to convince fans he is the naturalreplacement.

Others inline include Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who many feel lacks composure at the highestlevel, while youngster Maduka Okoye is relatively inexperienced.

Rohr hasalways maintained that the door remains open to any Nigerian playing regularlyin a top flight and can make a positive contribution.

The35-year-old, who made his international debut almost two decades ago, hasplayed all 21 matches for Israeli Premier League side Hapoel Hadera thisseason, but has not played for the Super Eagles since 2014.

“I knowthe situation in Nigeria. I get positive remarks in Israel and being ratedhighly could be something that will pave the way,” Ejide told BBC Sport.

“I’vekept nine clean sheets this season and we all know that goalkeepers always getbetter with age.

“I’vealso been following the Eagles and I believe that with my consistentperformances in Israel, there is every chance it opens the door to the possibilitiesof another call-up.”

Ejide madehis Nigeria debut at just 17 against Namibia in Windhoek in 2001, but thefollowing years saw him play second fiddle to Vincent Enyeama.

Other than asmall period in 2008 when then-coach Berti Vogts preferred him and StephenKeshi gave him some game time, Ejide has never been the first choice for theSuper Eagles.

“I cannever shut the international door to play for Nigeria again, I believe I havewhat it takes to get another chance,” he insisted.

He also sayshis age should not be a barrier to a return to international football.

“Thereare other goalkeepers who never gave up on international football despite theirage or being overlooked,” he insisted.

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