Bordeaux attacker Samuel Kalu is eager to hit the ground running in Nigeria shirt.
The 21-year-old, who dumped Belgian giants Gent in the summer to put pen to paper for a reported €8m five-year contract with Les Girondins, has a chance of making his international debut for his country against minnows Seychelles in Victoria on Saturday — after Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr named him in his squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Kalu missed out on selection for the Russia 2018 World Cup as Rohr preferred his former Gent teammate Moses Simon for the qualifiers.
But Simon, who also ditched Gent for a lucrative deal with La Liga outfit Levante in the summer transfer market, was injured before the football showpiece held in Russia for the first time. Instead of Kalu, Rohr settled for Crotone striker Simy Nwankwo for the tournament where the Super Eagles were dumped out in the first round .
“I never selected him. I saw him play for his team. I took Moses Simon who has been in my group since two years ago. He is also a winger, fast. He’s almost the same, but I found him better than Kalu,” the former Gabon manager told Girondins4ever in a recent interview.
With Alex Iwobi and Simon out due to injuries, Kalu is favourite for a starting role at Stade Linite, where the Eagles desperately need a win to keep alive their hopes of clinching a ticket to Cameroon 2019, after losing their first qualifier 2-0 against South Africa in Uyo last year.
And the former Slovenia-based winger, who alongside Rotherham’s Semi Ajayi, Paderborn left-back Jamilu Collins and Kelechi Nwakali are the uncapped players in Rohr’s squad, says he is ready for the challenge.
“I’m prepared to give everything to the Super Eagles,” Kalu, who has yet to hit the back of the net for his French Ligue 1 side since his arrival at Matmut Atlantique in August, said in a video on the Super Eagles official Twitter account on Thursday.
“It’s my first call-up and I want to make the country proud. I’m expecting us to win the game and nothing more.
“It’s an important game that we cannot afford to lose. We have to work hard and do whatever we can to win the game.”