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Football | Nigeria

Oshaniwa focused on Rwanda

Sharks defender Juwon Oshaniwa has expressed confidence that he could win a starting place in the return leg of Nigeria’s Africa Nations Cup qualifying match against Rwanda.

Oshinawa told SuperSport.com that he has gained a lot of experience since making his debut against Angola in January, and that he is now ripe enough for the big matches.

"It has been great experience playing for the Super Eagles because it is an opportunity millions of Nigerians have been craving for without success, so I'm happy for being able to play well enough to be selected," he said.

"I’m happy to have impressed the coaches enough to have played in all the friendly matches and even made the trip to Rwanda though I didn’t make the starting lineup. I'm satisfied with my form and look forward to starting the home game against Rwanda.

"It is a great challenge each time I put on the national colours, so I'll keep on doing my best to ensure this opportunity won’t pass me by."

Now installed as the home based Eagles first choice left wing back, the 21-year-old said he initially did not expect to walk straight to the main team and is not angry he was on the bench in Kigali.

"I was new in the team so it was always going to be difficult to fight for a shirt with someone as experienced as Taye Taiwo. He is a world class player, but I'm happy Stephen Keshi has said he is looking more at the form of the players than their reputation.

"He is always telling us we have to be confident in ourselves to bring out the best in us. Keshi has given us equal opportunity and competing with a player like Taiwo can only bring out the best in me.

"Besides, we have our different styles. We don’t play the same way. I'm much younger and stronger and know very soon my chance will come. I reckon I'm in a better position to start the upcoming game against Rwanda than a couple of weeks ago when we met in Kigali.

And Oshaniwa is not restricting competition for places to Taiwo alone.

"I also expect Elderson Echiejile to be in the picture at some point because he is young player like me,” he reasoned. “Both of us were in camp for the under 20 World cup in 2007 even though I failed to make the squad. "If I can play against Egypt who parade the likes of Abou Treka and Sunderland right back Ahmed Elmohamady and still come out with my heads high, then why not against Rwanda.

"We are really looking forward to the game against Peru. They are South Americans so we are expecting a very technical game. It would help very well in the rebuilding process." Oshaniwa's impact with Sharks has been one of the success stories of the season, and he equally looks ahead to a successful campaign with them.

"I've had a wonderful time with Sharks. The team encourages free flowing football which I'm comfortable with,” he said. "We have gelled well recently and this has resulted in two away victories against Heartland and ABS. Heartland had just done well in the Confederation Cup and were in high spirits, but we beat them.

"We should end the season with a continental ticket. That’s what befits a team with the caliber of players we have."


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