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Super Eagles: Ezenwa Embraces Noble Challenge

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The Heartland shot-stopper is highly rated by Gernot Rohr, but another home-based goalkeeper has been called up in his place

Super Eagles goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa holds no bitterness that Enyimba FC goalkeeper John Noble has replaced him in the national team.

Instead, the Heartland FC gloveman is delighted for Noble, who earned his first Super Eagles invite on Tuesday after a bright start to the year with the Aba Elephants.

Ezenwa made his Super Eagles bow in 2015 and has been the most consistent home-based star since Rohr took over affairs at the three-time African champions’ helm.

The 32-year-old shot-stopper was part of the Nigerian contingent to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, amassing 19 caps in all for the Super Eagles.

But a poor recent form for Heartland – Ezenwa conceded 12 goals in six NPFL matches for the Naze Millionaires – has seen the former youth international lose his place for club and country.

Rohr responded by inviting Noble, whose exploits – conceding eight goals in 11 games – have powered Enyimba to the group stage of the CAF Confederations Cup and high up the NPFL table.

The development is not a pleasant one for Ezenwa, but the veteran shot-stopper has expressed his happiness for Noble while revealing he is focused on winning back his spot.

“That is one thing Football is all about; first of all, I wish John Noble all the best in the National team. It’s fun to be there,” Ezenwa told Brila FM.

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“I’ve always done my best representing the NPFL players in the national team, and I’ve always done my best when called upon in between the sticks for the national team.

“Football sometimes you have some challenges that’s why it’s up and down, and I believe one thing in myself that I will be back.”

It may take a while before Noble makes his Super Eagles debut as head coach Gernot Rohr has named Sparta Rotterdam’s Maduka Okoye as Nigeria’s number one goalkeeper ahead of the team’s Afcon qualifiers later in March.

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