One of Nigeria’s most successful player in recent times continues to be snubbed by the national team handlers, but the 1996 Olympic Games hero believes his time will soon come
Ex-Barcelona winger Emmanuel Amuneke is convinced that Al Ahly’s Junior Ajayi has the quality to star for the Super Eagles and has backed the exciting winger to earn and take his chance with the three-time continental champions.
Ajayi has been Nigeria’s best export to Egyptian football in recent memory, winning the Egyptian Premier League four times, lifting the country’s FA Cup twice.
The 25-year-old then played a crucial role as Al Ahly powered to the CAF Champions League a few months ago.
Away from the continent, the former junior international scored the winning penalty kick and won the bronze medal as Al Ahly beat Palmeiras 3-2 in a penalty shootout at the FIFA Club World Cup.
Approaching the end of February, Ajayi’s brilliance was rewarded when he was the voted CAF Champions League player of the week.
But head coach Gernot Rohr snubbed the versatile forward when naming a 24-man list of players for Nigeria’s Afcon qualifying matches later this week.
And when injury and COVID-19 restrictions prevented a few players from travelling to Nigeria for the games, Rohr turned to the NPFL for replacements, ignoring Ajayi again.
But Nigerian legend Amuneke is convinced that with Ajayi’s quality, he won’t be in the international wilderness forever.
“Junior Ajayi is an excellent player and is really important to his team, ” the former Zamalek star told MBC Masr TV via Kingfut.
“He did not have the opportunity to join the Nigeria national team this time around, but I’m sure that he will have another opportunity soon.
“And I’m sure he’ll excel with the national team, as he usually does.”
Ajayi earned his only international cap in the Super Eagles 2-0 defeat to Serbia in 2018, coming on as an 88th-minute substitute for Alex Iwobi.
In the absence of Ajayi, the Super Eagles can still boast numerous quality talents in attack.
Man-of-the-moment Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho joined the team’s training camp yesterday to jostle for a starting shirt with Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and Genk’s free-scoring forward Paul Onuachu.