“I got the news from my club chairman, he called to congratulate me and he said I have been called up to the national team. It is perfect, I call it a double celebration. It is a great news and a great opportunity as well.” –Anayo Iwuala
How do you sleep after receiving a maiden call-up to the national team just a day to your birthday. Like a king? But, what’s the feeling like? Maybe only winning a maiden Grand Slam or an Olympic gold medal could trump that. This should be the best birthday present ever for a footballer.
The imminent international break has been one of the most bizzare in football’s long history, no thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic players’ involvement for their countries have been given second thoughts by clubs in a bid to safeguard their employees. Covid19 has been a spoiler for many and a gamechanger for others.
Enyimba FC winger Anayo Iwuala was conspicuously missing in coach Gernot Rohr’s initial 24-man squad that was named to face the Republic of Benin and Lesotho for the qualifiers. This came as a surprise giving Anayo’s rich vein of form this season.
However, Sadiq Umar’s withdrawal from the squad opened the window once again, and then came the big news from the official twitter handle of the Nigeria Football Federation which read:
A dream come true for the pacey winger, well deserved rather than lucky.
Since joining Enyimba FC in the 2019/2020 season of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) from Delta Force FC Anayo has endured a tough start to life in Aba. A delayed debut due to injury ensured the winger played just over ten games in his first season at the club.
The 2020/2021 season couldn’t have been better, 19 starts in 20 matches in all competition tells the story. He could probably be the first name on the teamsheet these days. Such has been his form this term that he has become a go-to man for the Elephants, unplayable for defenders, and irresistibly hungry.
More so, Anayo’s goals contribution this campaign has improved in leaps and bounds, a current tally of two goals (versus Kano Pillars & Adamawa United) and eight assist further justifies his invitation to the national team.
A happy time for Enyimba FC who now have two players invited to the national team, as Anayo Iwuala joins goalkeeper John Noble. So surreal, but this is a call-up and a half for the boys.
The Super Eagles will take on Squirrels at Stade Charles de Gaulle in Porto Novo on March 27 before facing the Crocodiles three days later at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.