Sebastian Osigwe challenges Maduka Okoye for Super Eagles number one slot
He had to wait a long time for his Super Eagles invitation and after it came for November 2020 Afcon qualifiers, Sebastian Osigwe declared that he possesses the frame of mind needed to strengthen Nigeria's goalkeeping department well into the future when called upon.
For that to happen, the 26 year old shot-stopper will have to usurp current Super Eagles stand-in number one goalkeeper Maduka Okoye.
At a time Okoye was still playing non-league football in Germany (leading to many observers criticising Gernot Rohr vehemently for inviting him to the national team back then), Osigwe was already playing in a league equivalent to the English Championship in Switzerland leaving many observers bemused as to why he was being ignored by national team handlers.
His time eventually came when he invited to the Super Eagles camp ahead of Afcon double header qualifiers against Sierra Leone on 13 and 17 November 2020. "Honestly, I was full of joy when the news broke to me. I had to inform my dad immediately because it has always been a childhood dream that one day I will wear the green and white of Nigeria,” Osigwe stated in a recent interview with aoifootball.com.
He however sat out both matches on the bench as Germany-born Maduka Okoye - who now plays top level football in the Dutch Eredivisie - stood in-between the sticks for Nigeria with South Africa based Daniel Akpeyi as the other available goalkeeper.
Proving undeterred by the bench-role for the Super Eagles on that occasion, Okoye was quoted in the same month as saying : "my goal is to help Nigeria in the goalkeeping department (on the long run).
I am ready to give my best to the team anytime the coach calls upon me to put on the Nigeria jersey."
That now puts him in a direct competition with not just Maduka Okoye but others like Daniel Akpeyi, Francis Uzoho and Matthew Yakubu.
Okoye, who posted a clean sheet in Nigeria's last game, is showing signs of growing into the Super Eagles number one role. He comes across as someone with no intentions of letting loose his starting national team role any time soon.
All Osigwe has to do now is continue playing regularly for his club with daredevil saves week in week out. Then when the opportunity does present itself to man the post for Nigeria, fans will be able to see what he brings to the national team table.
The Luzern-born Glovesman, who now plays for FC Lugano in the Swiss Super League following a transfer in August 2020, has kept in 4 games this season. Reports from Switzerland indicate that he has been performing his goalkeeping duties in the league very competently.
Nigeria's next competitive fixtures come with the resumption of Afcon qualifiers in March 2021.
Is this when we see Osigwe brush others aside to claim the much coveted number 1 slot in Super Eagles colours?
Only time will tell.
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