One of Nigeria’s most prolific strikers in Europe this season has voiced his shock at not making Nigeria’s squad to the 33rd edition of the continental championships in January
Super Eagles forward Cyriel Kolawole Dessers has confessed his disappointment at missing the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon early this year.
Since making his debut for Nigeria under German gaffer Gernot Rohr, Dessers has made only an 18-minute appearance for the two-time African champions. With Napoli’s Victor Osimhen the Super Eagles’ undisputed number nine when fit, Dessers was always going to have a difficult time getting a run of games for the 2013 Afcon kings.
Still, the Belgian-born striker, too hot to handle for defenders at the time, retained hopes of at least making the Nigerian squad to the continental showpiece in January.
Mainly deployed from the bench, Dessers smashed in six goals for Feyenoord between November and December to place himself in the consciousness of the national team handlers. One of those goals was the winner in the 2-1 away defeat of Taiwo Awoniyi’s Union Berlin in the Europa Conference League.
But despite the injury-enforced absence of Paul Onuachu and the withdrawal of Emmanuel Dennis, Odion Ighalo, and Osimhen, then-interim boss Augustine Eguavoen found no space for Dessers on the final 28-man roster to the Afcon.
Eguavoen instead preferred the quartet of Almeria’s Umar Sadiq, Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho, Olympiacos’ Henry Onyekuru, and Union’s Awoniyi. Nigeria failed to make it beyond the first knockout phase of the competition.
And Dessers has confessed that he could not get the thoughts of his snub out of his head as he believed he deserved an invitation for his excellent form.
“That’s in my head, yes,” the 27-year-old told RTV Rijnmond, as per Feyenoordpings.
“But I have to say that it did get a bit of a knock after the Africa Cup. Despite withdrawals, I did not join while I deserved it at the time.
“So I was very sorry. But I will never say no to Nigeria; that seems clear to me.”
Dessers was again not called up for the final double-header World Cup playoffs against Ghana.
The Super Eagles failed to score from open play in Kumasi and Abuja as the Black Stars qualified for Qatar 2022 on the away-goal rule.
The Nigeria Football Federation has since relieved Eguavoen of his role as the Super Eagles head coach.