Igbonu happy to shun Denmark for Nigeria

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FC Ufa striker, Sylvester Igbonu, is happy to have rejected
an offer to play for Denmark, saying he had always wanted to play for Nigeria.

Igbonu is among 18 overseas-based players invited by coach Sunday Oliseh on Monday for the Super Eagles’ 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania on September 5. It is the first time the powerful forward will be invited to the Eagles.

The 24-year-old began his career at FC Ebedei in 2004. He joined Midtjylland in 2010 and scored 41 goals in 146 games for The Wolves, helping them to a first ever league title in 2015, before joining Ufa in the summer. He has scored once in four games this season for the Russian club.

His performances caught the eye of Danish officials, who approached him to play for them but in an interview with our correspondent last year, Igbonu said he turned the offer down.

“Yes, I was approached but I always told them that I wanted to play for Nigeria. If I have to play for them, I have to apply for their citizenship and by doing that; I will have to go to school. And I don’t think I have the time to start going to school just because I want to get their passport,” he said.

Now he is happy that his wait was worth the while and is aiming to give his best against the Taifa Stars.

Igbonu added, “I have always wanted to play for Nigeria because it’s a thing of joy to represent your country. I can’t wait to put on the green and white jersey. It’s a dream come true. Now, I’m looking forward to the game, it’s going to be fun, and I’m just going there to give my best. I want people to recognise me and I want to win with the Eagles.”

He said he first learnt of his invitation in his club’s dressing room on Monday.

Igbonu was on the field for 90 minutes as Ufa defeated Mordovya 1-0 away from home in the Russian Premier League on Monday. He was unaware that Oliseh had included him in his team for the game in Dar es Salam. But at full-time, he was shocked by the loads of messages – congratulating him on his first call-up – on his phone.

“I was so happy on Monday, when I saw it (invite). I felt very good. First I saw people congratulating me because we had a league game, which we won. But after the game, I went to the dressing room to check my phone and I saw messages from friends and family members saying ‘congratulation on your invitation to the Super Eagles.’ I am so happy to finally get my first call-up to play for my country. I give God all the glory,” as lgbonu said.

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