Ejide Targets Super Eagles Return After Six Years
Nigerian goalkeeper Austin Ejide said he is in the best form of his career and his not ruling out a return to the Super Eagles six years after his last appearance, Completesports reports.
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has not had it rosy in the goalkeeping department as he continues to chop and change in a bid to find the best pair of hands for the Eagles.
First-choice Francis Uzoho is out of action for a lengthy period with a knee injury, while Kaiser Chiefs Daniel Akpeyi has struggled to impress despite being the most experienced among the present crop.
Others include Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who many feel lacks composure at the highest level, while youngster Maduka Okoye is relatively inexperienced.
Rohr has always maintained that the door remains open to any Nigerian playing regularly in a top flight and can make a positive contribution.
And Ejide, 35, who has played all 21 matches for Israeli Premier League side Hapoel Hadera this season, believes he is still good enough for the Eagles.
“I know the situation in Nigeria. I get positive remarks in Israel and being rated highly could be something that will pave the way,” Ejide told BBC Sport.
“I’ve kept nine clean sheets this season and we all know that goalkeepers always get better with age.
“I’ve also been following the Eagles and I believe that with my consistent performances in Israel, there is every chance it opens the door to the possibilities of another call-up.
“I can never shut the international door to play for Nigeria again, I believe I have what it takes to get another chance.
He also says his age should not be a barrier to a return to international football.
“There are other goalkeepers who never gave up on international football despite their age or being overlooked,” he insisted.
“At 46, Essam El-Hadary still played a major tournament for Egypt and I can hopefully follow in that footsteps.
“I keep focusing on club football here, the more I do well, then I will continue to retain that hope of playing for my country again.”
Ejide made his Nigeria debut at 17 against Namibia in Windhoek in 2001, but the following years saw him play second fiddle to Vincent Enyeama.
He was part of the Super Eagles squad that won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa and was also at the 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010 AFCONs.
Also, he was in the squads at the 2002, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
He helped Hapoel Hadera to Israeli top flight promotion in 2018 ending their 39 years in the lower leagues.
He previously played in the country for Hapoel Petah Tikva and Hapoel Be’er Sheva between 2009 and 2015, but that was after a stint at Tunisian side Etoile du Sahel where he suffered two successive CAF Champions League final defeats in 2004 and 2005.
He left the North African country after the Tunisian FA decided not to allow local clubs to sign foreign goalkeepers.
He then spent three years at French club SC Bastia before moving to Israel in 2009