Ezenwa shares Super Eagles secret with NPFL players after maiden call-up for Afcon qualifiers


Gernot Rohr has opted to include three home-based players in his team for the upcoming games after Europe-based stars were held back by their clubs

Nigeria and Heartland goalkeeper Ikechuwku Ezenwa has urged newly-invited NPFL players to give their all for the Super Eagles in order to open doors of opportunities for others.

The 32-year-old was dropped from Gernot Rohr’s latest 24-man list for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Benin and Lesotho, however, he left some words of advice for the three home-based stars who have been invited for the crunch fixtures.

Due to the coronavirus travel restrictions in Europe and their fine performances in the NPFL, Enyimba goalkeeper John Noble and striker Anayo Iwuala alongside Abia Warriors defender Adeleke Adekunle have been summoned to the Super Eagles’ set-up for the first time.

In his reaction to the late call-ups, the Heartland shot-stopper – who was part of Nigeria’s 23-man squad to the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia – encouraged the trio to be humble and hard-working to earn future invitations.

Ezenwa told Goal: “The most important thing is any player that is opportune to go to the national team, should represent the NPFL stars. They should do their personal best so people can know that there are talents and there are raw talents.

“Even before now, Rohr has been giving some home-based players chances to come to the national camp because I remember the likes of Ifeanyi Anaemena, Mfon Udoh, myself and some other persons.

“I’m always praying even when I was there for the NPFL players to always get this invitation and we are seeing the likes of Noble and Iwuala now. I think it’s a great development and my prayer is for them to be there, give their 100 per cent, show character and be humble. With their hard work and everything they do there, it’s going to earn them another call-up again.

“That’s just the secret. I think they need to give their best to send the message across that NPFL players can do it too, so that other people can get the invitation.”

Ezenwa who was also part of the Super Eagles squad that won bronze at the 2019 Afcon in Egypt, admitted there are quality talents in the Nigeria top-flight but they lack exposure.

“There are so many quality players in the Nigerian league and I’m happy with the new NPFL TV that is showing live games,” he continued. “I think the special thing that happened back then when the league was shown on television was the exposure. Had it been, it’s still like that, we would have at least six home-based players in the team.

“I remember the time of Keshi when he took some home-based players to the Africa Cup of Nations, what made them known were the live games which were shown every week and whenever he made selections without inviting these players, people would tell him we watched this person on TV and he’s a very good player, what is happening.

“Live games will help the NPFL stars not only to go to the national team but for transfers to Europe as well, I remember Taiye Taiwo then from Lobi Stars to Marseille, Ayila from Union Bank to Dynamo Kyiv. If live games are on, week in week out, they are going to sell our players. Sometimes, I watch the Zambian league on SuperSport and you see their stars too.”


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