Taiwo Awoniyi: A Super Eagles player eight years in the making


Eight years after helping Nigeria to under-17 glory in the United Arab Emirates, Taiwo Awoniyi finally gets his Super Eagles chance.

His maiden Super Eagles call-up gives Taiwo Awoniyi a chance to represent Nigeria at every level having already led the line for the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels.

He becomes the fifth player from that under-17 squad that won the World Cup in 2013 to make the leap to the Super Eagles.

Taiwo Awoniyi follows fellow strikers, Isaac Success and Kelechi Iheanacho as well as goalkeepers, Dele Alampasu and Francis Uzoho to achieve the rare feat.

But why did it take so long? The answer is simply because of his position and the high level of competition in the Super Eagles.

Healthy Competition

Nigeria is blessed with an embarrassment of riches in the centre forward position both historically and at the moment.

To give some context, Simy Nwankwo scored 20 goals for Crotone in the Serie A last season and it still wasn’t enough to earn him a spot.

Sadiq Umar scored 22 goals for Almeria last season and has netted six times in eight games this season already and isn’t even in contention for a call-up.

Taiwo Awoniyi slots into the squad as one of three centre forwards which makes one wonder if his maiden call-up will produce a debut.

Awoniyi may have to wait longer for his Super Eagles debut

Taiwo’s competition is Victor Osimhen, the most expensive African footballer of all time at €70 million and also has scored seven goals in eight appearances for Napoli so far this season.

The only other centre forward is Paul Onuachu who scored 35 goals in 41 appearances for Genk last season and already has 11 goals in 12 games this season which is only good enough to make him Osimhen’s backup.

That’s not even counting Kelechi Iheanacho who’s listed as a midfielder but more than capable as a centre forward with his pedigree at Leicester City.

And considering Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr tends to only start with one striker, that’s a lot of competition for one spot.

One Chance

It’s hard to see how Taiwo Awoniyi who only got in as a replacement for a replacement will earn his first Super Eagles cap let alone keep the spot long-term despite his good form.

Taiwo Awoniyi is currently playing his best ever football at the moment. With eight goals and two assists in all competitions for German side, Union Berlin.

And despite such impressive numbers, he only got a Super Eagles call-up because Alex Iwobi got injured and was replaced by Terem Moffi who also got injured.

So it is very likely that this double-header against the Central African Republic may just be the only Super Eagles call-up Taiwo Awoniyi gets.

Gernot Rohr has a history of loyalty to his group of players so that means the squad will attain a more familiar look once everyone is fit and available.


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