FC Ifeanyiubah of Nnewi goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa has confessed that he is relishing the new wave of relevance he has found in the Super Eagles, as he was first choice for back-to-back World Cup qualifiers against Cameroon, just few weeks after captaining the second team to qualify for the 2018 Championship of African nations (CHAN).
Ezenwa, a former junior international, got his first big chances against the Lions and proved his ability and capacity, leaving no one in doubt.
Ezenwa has been with the Super Eagles since 2015 when he was invited by then coach Sunday Oliseh and was also part of the Olympics team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he won a silver medal.
He was huge for the team as the African champions started the first match in Uyo like a chimney, and took the same confidence to Yaoundé’s Stade Omnisports Ahmadou Ahidjo on Monday.
The FC IfeanyiUbah number one stopper arrived at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Canada 10 years ago as third choice behind Olufemi Thomas and Moses Ocheje.
The technical crew was uncomfortable with the fact that Thomas was prone to jitters, and Ocheje got injured in the second match, paving way for Ezenwa to dazzle in goal as the Flying Eagles reached the quarter –finals.
Dele Ajiboye was goalkeeper of the U17 team that won the FIFA World Cup in Korea Republic 10 years ago, Dele Alampasu was number one for the U17 team that won the same trophy in the UAE four years ago and; Ahmed Musa played for the U20 team in Colombia in 2011.
However, they are all seen as veterans, as a result of more activity and consistency over the years, but Ezenwa has now popped unto the scene and he is relishing every moment of his new found relevance.
“I am very happy to be part of this squad. We look out for one another and everyone is ready to cover up for the other. It is a family, such a united family,” Ezenwa enthused.
The euphoria got to a head when Eagles technical adviser, Gernot Rohr praised Ezenwa for his performances during the games against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in Uyo and Yaoundé.
In a brief chat with SportsDay after the Eagles’ 1-1 draw at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo Sport Complex in Yaoundé, Rohr said: “I am very happy with the performance of Ezenwa he because did very well again today (Monday).
“Yes, there was a penalty, but you cannot blame him, he also made some very big saves some minutes after the penalty which was very crucial for us; he did very well in the two games and I must commend him.
“You know that he’s our 4th goalkeeper, the three other ones you know-Enyeama is injured and cannot play, Carl Ikeme is sick and we are praying for him, Akpeyi is also injured, so it was a problem for us going into this fixture.
“You can say he did very well; he must work harder now. We have two goalkeeper trainers to help him improve more, but overall, he did brilliantly well and also he played well for the CHAN team against Benin, so I am excited that he will deliver for the team when called upon.”