Gangling Israel-based goalkeeper, Austin Ejide, will step out of the shadows of his teammate, Vincent Enyeama, today in Miami, United States (US), when he leads the team as skipper in the international friendly against Venezuela at the Marlins Stadium in the American city.
Head Coach, Stephen Keshi, said after a critical consideration that he had decided to hand Ejide the armband for the match. Indeed, Ejide first joined the national team from Gabros of Nnewi, in the run-up to the Korea-Japan 2002 World Cup. He came alongside Enyeama and others such as Justice Christopher. The Eagles’ number one jersey has since been alternated between the duo, with Enyeama spotting it most times .
Today’s game, however, will be an opportunity for Ejide to lay claim to the Eagles’ number one shirt. In the meantime, the longest serving player of Newcastle United of England, Shola Ameobi, has said he was simply delighted to be part of the Nigerian set up for the first time. He expressed hopes that it would turns out well today Wednesday (Thursday morning in Nigeria). Ameobi spoke after dinner on Monday night on arrival from England. “It’s good to be here and I will learn to speak Pidgin English as the players had been directed”, he joked after his former teammate at the Toons’, Obafemi Martins, challenged him to start speaking in Pidgin English, which Keshi has adopted as the official language each time the team is in camp.
Also, in ecstacy over his call up is Bright Dike of MLS side Portland Timbers in the US, who was the last to arrive camp. Dike said at breakfast yesterday that it was ‘a dream come true’ for him to be part of the Nigerian squad, as Assistant Coach, Sylvanus Okpala tried to speak the Igbo. “I understand it but don’t speak fluently, it will get better now that I will start coming to Nigeria”, he said amidst smiles.
Obafemi Martins, who is styled the Weapon of Mass Destruction, has vowed to get a shirt with his performance on the pitch on Wednesday and in subsequent camping of the team. “My return is for real and Nigerians will see”, he said. Indeed, Martins looked the sharpest among attackers in camp as he banged in goal after goal in Monday evening training. The game will be played at the Marlins Stadium in Miami 8pm Miami time and 2am Thursday Nigerian time.