Obafemi Martins, Raheem Lawal, Azubuike Egwueke and others listen to Head Coach, Stephen Keshi during Monday evening training session
Gangling Israeli-based goalkeeper, Austin Ejide, will step out of the shadows of his national teammate, Vincent Enyeama, on Wednesday night in Miami, United States, when he leads the team out as skipper in the international friendly against Venezuela at the Marlins Stadium in the American city.
Head Coach Stephen Keshi said after critical consideration, he has 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, alongside Enyeama and the likes of Justice Christopher.
The Eagles number one jersey has since been alternated between the duo, with Enyeama having the lion’s share, but Wednesday’s game will be another opportunity for Ejide to lay claim to the Eagles number one shirt.
In the meantime, Newcastle United of England’s longest serving player, Shola Ameobi, has said he was simply delighted to be part of the Nigerian set up for the first time and hopes it turns out well on Wednesday (Thursday morning in Nigeria).
Ameobi spoke after dinner on Monday night on arrival from England.
“Its good to be here and I will learn to speak Pidgin English as the players have 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 ecstasy over his call up is Bright Dike of MLS side Portland Timbers in the United States, who was the last to join camp.
Dike said at breakfast on Tuesday morning that it was a dream come true for him to be part of the Nigerian set up, as Assistant Coach, Sylvanus Okpala tried to size up his ability to speak the Ibo language.
“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.