Anthony Nwakaeme: ‘I deserve another chance with Nigeria’




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Nigeria’s Anthony Nwakaeme played one game for the Super Eagles in November 2017.

Trabzonspor striker Anthony Nwakaeme believes he deserves another chance with the Nigeria national team after being overlooked following a solitary appearance.

The 30-year-old’s impressive form earned him a call-up during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, but he failed to score on his debut against Algeria in November 2017.

He rejected big money offers from China to stay competitive in Europe and joined Turkish club Trabzonspor last August, but despite registering 10 goals and six assists in 24 appearances this season, he remains in the international wilderness.

“I got a chance to play [for Nigeria] and I know I could have scored, but my performance was not enough to completely write me off after one match,” Nwakaeme told BBC Sport.

“This is football and sometimes things don’t always work out as planned, no matter how hard you try.

“Other players struggled in their first game or more and they still got another chance but I didn’t get another opportunity to prove myself.

“I deserve another chance and one match should not be a defining moment in my international career.”

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr continues to select players from Turkey, Israel, China as well as the English and German second-tiers in his present squad.

However, Nwakaeme says playing in a less glamorous place could possibly be the only logical reason for his lengthy omission.

“Probably because I don’t play in a big league or for a big European club counts against me in the eyes of the coaches,” he added.

“Maybe if I’m playing for a club in England, Spain, Italy or France I wouldn’t have been treated that way.

“Personally, I’m happy with my life and career, if another chance comes up to play for my country that’s fine but if not I will continue to stay happy at my club.

“It was the fulfilment of a childhood dream when I played for Nigeria and I will always support those selected by the coach.”

Nwakaeme, who began his European career in Romania, had a successful three-year spell at Hapoel Be’er Sheva winning three successive league titles as well as lifting the Israeli Cup twice.

He scored 43 goals and created 24 assists in 120 appearances for the club after joining from rivals Hapoel Raanana in June 2015.

It was his form in Israel and Uefa Europa League that led to a call-up to the Super Eagles squad for their 2018 World Cup qualifiers in August 2017.

Nwakaeme was an unused substitute in three games before making his debut against Algeria in November.

Unlike his compatriot and then teammate John Ogu, he was omitted from the final squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.



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