Heartland goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa has sent encouragement to his colleagues in the Super Eagles ahead of their AFCON qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho.
Ezenwa was not selected for the crucial qualifiers as Gernot Rohr invited Sparta Rotterdam’s Maduka Okoye, APOEL’s Francis Uzoho and Enyimba’s John Noble to challenge for the no. 1 spot in the 24-man team.
Nigeria has scored ten goals but conceded seven so far in the competition. But Ezenwa believes “his younger brothers” need more than their abilities to help the team secure a spot in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to hold in Cameroon.
“All of them are wonderful goalkeepers, I’ve been with them and they are my younger brothers. The same way when I came to the Super Eagles, Enyeama welcomed me as a younger brother,” Ezenwa told Goal.
“They are great goalkeepers and I wish they do more for the country. Okoye, Uzoho and Noble, I just pray for favour for my colleagues.
“Sometimes, you might be doing very well but when that luck is not there, it might be a problem. I know they can do their best for the country, and I pray for God’s favour and luck to be with whoever will mount the post, luck especially. Just like we always do, we should qualify for tournaments with at least a game left.”
Nigeria will play against Benin in Port Novo on Saturday and return to Lagos to face Lesotho three days later but fans are not expected at the Teslim Balogun Stadium due to coronavirus restrictions.
Ezenwa, who played a crucial role in helping the Super Eagles qualify for the World Cup in 2018, emphasised on the importance of fans in the AFCON games.
He added: “What makes football more interesting is the fans but you see situations like this, you just have to adapt.
“In the NPFL, when we go to some venues there is noise you hear that gives you the zeal to play and you know there are fans in the stadium. But now with no fans, I don’t think it is going to be a problem but we will miss them.
“There are some things their instrumentals raise up in the body because you know you’re representing the whole country. We’ll miss those things but it won’t stop the fight to qualify our country for the Nations Cup.”