Nottingham Forest striker Taiwo Awoniyi has expressed his joy at being recalled to the Super Eagles of Nigeria ahead if the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Sierra Leone.
Speaking to Soccernet, Awoniyi stated that the Super Eagles call-up is a privilege and that he is eager to hit the pitch. Ahead of the crucial game, Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro selected a squad of 23 players, with Awoniyi making the cut.
This marks his first invitation since September 2022 when Nigeria suffered a defeat against Algeria in a friendly match. Awoniyi was unable to participate in the game against Portugal last November due to a lack of form. Additionally, he missed the double-header against Guinea-Bissau due to an injury.
However, the 24-year-old striker returned to action in April while playing for Nottingham Forest in the Premier League. At the time, Forest were battling the threat of relegation from the Premier League, but Awoniyi stepped up and played a pivotal role in their survival. He scored five goals in the team’s last three matches, helping them secure their place in the league.
Although the national team camp in Lagos opened on June 11th, Awoniyi arrived a few days later as he was in Ilorin, showing support for teams competing in the final of the Never Stop Steam Cup, a grassroots club competition he organized.
“It’s a great privilege for any player, it’s an honour, and it should not be taken for granted, Awoniyi said.
“I’m very happy I was invited, I am proud and overjoyed as well. However, the Super Eagles is not a home for everybody, you can’t be there forever because it is not for one player.
“You may be there today and not be there tomorrow. But the main thing is that you should put in your best when you get the opportunity.
“Playing for your country is a pride for any player, and if you look at the Premier League, the Bundesliga, the Laliga, and other leagues, we have a lot of Nigerian players doing well.
“When they make the lists, Nigerians would always ask why a certain player is there on it. Nigerians would always have something to say, that is to show how big the Nation is in terms of talent.
“So I tell myself that getting the call up does not mean I should take it for granted. I’m happy I’m there, but I believe it’s a big honour and privilege.