BY BOLAJI OKUNOLA.
With Super Eagles still having goalkeeping problems barely six weeks to the destiny-shaping back-to-back clashes with Cameroon in the race to World Cup 2018, sidelined national team goalkeeper, Austin Ejide may just be an option.
Ejide who last featured for the Super Eagles in a surprised 2-3 home loss to Congo in Calabar on September 6, 2014 only recently returned to action after signing a contract with Israeli club, Hapoel Hadera.
Last January, while featuring in a Joseph Dosu organized novelty match at the Julius Berger ground in Lagos, he told Sports Village Square that his not getting a national call-up was due to his not featuring for any club side since he left Hapoel Be’er Sheva of Israel in 2015.
As at January, he still nursed a possible return to the Super Eagles’ fold if he was able to secure a contract with a club.
His contract for the Israeli club is for three years. Before, Vincent Enyeama, Ejide was the first choice goalkeeper when the 2002 squad was disbanded after the turmoil that afflicted the Super Eagles at the Mali 2002 Africa Cup of Nations.
Ejide had debuted for the Super Eagles on June 16, 2001 when he came off the bench as a substitute for Sunday Rotimi in an away 0-2 win for Nigeria against Namibia in an Africa Cup of Nations Cup qualifier.
He was looking like a possible permanent holder of the number one shirt having featured in the pre World Cup friendly matches under Coach Adegboye Onigbinde. But Vincent Enyeama stamped his authority as a goalkeeper the moment he debuted on May 4, 2002 in a 3-0 defeat of Kenya in a friendly match in Lagos.
But in 2008, Ejide was preferred by Coach Berti Vogts ahead of Vincent Enyeama at the Africa Cup of Nations.
But is he ready to bounce back again? In the encounter with him months ago, he told Sports Village Square: “I still wish to keep for the Super Eagles. All goalkeepers must be in top form before getting a national team call up. I am not under a contract with any club for now.
“No one knows what tomorrow or the nearest future will be. As soon as a get signed with any club then I will certainly be battle ready for the Super Eagles gloves. Nigeria is my country and I derive pleasure in staying between the sticks whenever I am called upon.”
Will get a call up again? Only the team handlers can decide.