Ifeanyi Anaemena does not think his move to Rivers United diminishes his chances of future call ups to the Super Eagles, revealing that he is still in touch with national team coach Gernot Rohr who assures him of “better days ahead”.
The 28-year-old centre-back made his name at record eight-time Nigeria Professional Football League winners Enyimba where his performances earned him a call up to the national team for the AFCON 2021 qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho last November.
While he’d played for the home-based Super Eagles prior to his call up for the AFCON qualifiers, he didn’t get off the bench for the main team against Benin or Lesotho and is yet to receive another call up.
Getting that initial invitation to the main national team, however, was a notable feat in itself considering Rohr’s unfavourable disposition towards home-based players and Anaemena seized the platform in impressive fashion to lend his voice to calls for more domestic-based players in the Super Eagles – a stipulation that has since been built into Rohr’s contract.
NPFL players with aspirations of international football seek moves to Enyimba, Nigeria’s biggest and most successful club side, in the hope of catching the eyes of national team handlers.
Super Eagles mainstay Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Sunday Adetunji, Anaemena himself and Theophilus Afelokhai who like the defender, joined Rivers United on a free transfer have all received call ups to the Super Eagles in recent times while at Enyimba.
Having ended his association with the Aba side to move across state lines to Rivers United on a two-year deal, Anaemena doesn’t believe his move away from Enyimba imperils his chances of a return to the national side insisting that his performances more than where he performs will determine his international fate.
And the defender says he’ll always strive to keep putting in performances at his new club worthy of another chance in the Eagles and revealed that Rohr is often in touch to offer words of encouragement.
“I think that being invited to the Super Eagles, it’s a sign that came on its own and I have to take it up. It doesn’t matter which club I’m playing in being invited to the Super Eagles,” the former Giwa FC defender said.
“But the most important thing is that I’m reckoned to the Super Eagles, and the pedigree of playing there I have to maintain the tempo. I have always been in contact with Gernot Rohr. Whenever he calls me, he encourages me to keep doing the good work, there will be better days ahead.
“So, if an opportunity comes for me to go back to the Super Eagles, it doesn’t matter the club I’m in. The most important thing is that if the opportunity comes then I take it up. I have to play myself, keeping the tempo, keeping everything to make sure that I still maintain my consistency in football.”