Thursday Jun 13, 2019. 10:16
Liverpool forward Taiwo Awoniyi has admitted his sadness at being snubbed for Nigeria’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
The 21-year-old, who is yet to make a first team appearance for the Reds because he does not hold the necessary work permit, impressed on loan at Belgian club Royal Excel Mouscron during the second half of last season, netting 11 goals from 16 appearances.
Awoniyi was hoping this would be enough to earn him a spot in Nigeria’s team, perhaps as backup to first-choice number 9 Odion Ighalo, but Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr instead opted for forwards Paul Onuachu and Victor Osimhen to fulfil this role.
The snub from the AFCON squad could also affect Awoniyi’s club career, as being unable to feature for the national team means he remains ineligible to secure a work permit in England and is likely to be sold or loaned out by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
Reflecting on his exclusion, the forward shared his disappointment but insisted he has not given up hope of forcing his way into the senior Nigeria set-up.
"Actually for me if a player is trying his best in his club, you believe you are doing the best you can and if you don't get invited, not even once, you'll be sad about it," Awoniyi said.
"That is the truth, but there is nothing you can do about it.
"You just have to keep on working and keep on believing in yourself, that is football."