Ifeanyi Ubah goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, says he is ready to be Nigeria’s first choice if given a chance.
Handlers of the country’s senior men’s national team, the Super Eagles, are being forced to search for a permanent first choice goalkeeper ahead of a two-legged 2018 World Cup qualifier against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon after it emerged a couple of weeks ago that regular pick, Carl Ikeme, has been diagnosed with acute leukemia and would have to undergo chemotherapy immediately.
Ezenwa has been a regular invitee to the Super Eagles since Gernot Rohr took charge of the team, but has not had a chance to stand in-between the sticks for the team in a competitive game. The 6ft 3in shot-stopper was however in goal for Nigeria for two international friendlies in May/June.
“I was given a chance against Corsica and Togo and I think I did not let the manager and Nigeria down,” he told busybuddiesng.com in an exclusive interview. “I did my best to make sure we came out victorious.”
It’s been a long while since a player from the domestic league has kept goal for the Super Eagles in a competitive game. Should the 28-year-old goalkeeper play in the qualifiers, it will be the first time since Vincent Enyeama, over a decade ago, that a home-based shot-stopper will be in the lineup. It’s a chance he’s anxiously looking forward to.
“If that opportunity is given to me again, I’m going to make good use of it,” Ezenwa said. “I believe with how much I’m working months before the game, I can do even better against Cameroon.
Ezenwa would face competition for the number one shirt from Portugal-based Dele Alampasu and Daniel Akpeyi of South Africa’s Chippa United who was in goal when Nigeria lost to South Africa at home in a 2019 African Cup Of Nations qualifier in June.
Writer: Chuma Nnoli
You can follow him on Twitter @chumannoli