As Crotone of Italy rookie, Simeon Tochukwu Nwankwo (Simy) braces up for his first advent into the national team’s camp, Super Eagles media officer, Toyin Ibitoye says it is not an opportunity that came overnight for the emergent star.
Though Nigerian football watchers have argued that ‘Simy’ has emerged from the blue to stage a claim for an appearance at the World Cup without any strong pedigree, Ibitoye insists the lad deserves a chance, especially as the Eagles’ crew have been monitoring him for a long while.
Ibitoye stressed that it is wrong to argue that ‘Simy’ does not deserve to be called ahead of other strikers who have been known longer than him and have paid their dues in the national team.
Truly, ‘Simy’ is gaining from misses that have now hit the like of Al Ahly SC striker Junior Oluwafemi Ajayi, Shaktar Donetsk’s Olarenwaju Kayode, Malaga duo Isaac Success and Aide Brown Ideye as well as Hapoel Be’er Sheva’s Anthony Nwakaeme.
They all missed the cut for Nigeria’s 30-man provisional World Cup roster, with Eagles boss, Gernot Rohr opting to hand a maiden call-up to the one now dubbed ‘New Kanu.’
It is a massive leap for a striker who spent the formative years of his football career at Future Hope Academy Nkpor, G.U.O FC and Imo United, all in Owerri, before joining the youth team of Portimonense of Portugal in August 2010.
However, Ibitoye pointed out that ‘Simy’ is Nigeria’s most in-form striker playing in any of Europe’s top five leagues, having netted seven goals in his last seven matches in the Serie A, which is reputed as a league with the meanest defences in world football.
”He’s under the watch of our scouts for a long time not just because of the World Cup, he has scored some good goals, a spectacular overhead kick against Juventus.
”Now he has the opportunity to come to camp and show to the coaches why he should be at the World Cup,” Ibitoye submitted.