Bendel Insurance midfielder, Divine Nwachukwu, is eager to make his international debut when the Super Eagles take on Sierra Leone in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Sunday on Monrovia, Liberia, after he was handed a first call-up by coach Jose Peseiro, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Nwachukwu is among the four home-based players in Peseiro’s 23-man list, which was released last week.
Other invited players from the domestic league are Rivers United goalkeeper Victor Sochima and left-back Ebube Duru, and Enyimba safe hands Olorunleke Ojo.
The midfielder’s invitation came during the just-concluded 2022/23 Nigeria Professional Football League Super 6 playoffs, where he scored three goals for Bendel Insurance in addition to his one goal and five assists during the regular season, which propelled the Benin Arsenal to a record 21-game unbeaten run in the NPFL.
In a chat with our correspondent, the former junior international said, “I was over the moon when I got the news. It’s like one of the biggest achievements of my career so far and I hope to make it count.”
The 20-year-old has risen through the ranks of Nigeria’s age-grade football, having represented the country at the U-15 and U-17 levels between 2017 and 2019.
He made a combined five substitute appearances at the 2019 U-17 AFCON in Tanzania and the U-17 World Cup in Brazil.
He was recently invited into the U-23 team but eventually didn’t join the team in their ill-fated quest for the AFCON and the 2024 Olympics.
“I can say not being part of the U-23 was due to circumstance, but a bigger duty is here and I’m looking forward to the experience,” an elated Nwachukwu told our correspondent.
Nwachukwu was part of the Eagles first training session on Monday, ahead of Sunday’s game against the Leone Stars in Liberia.
Nigeria currently lead their AFCON qualifying group, which also includes Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe, with nine points from four games.
A win against Sierra Leone would secure Nigeria’s place at the tournament in Ivory Coast next year, while their opponents need a win to boost their chances of qualifying.