Magnus would relish a Nigerian call-up

COLCHESTER United's stand-in skipper Magnus Okuonghae says it would be an honour if the Nigerian national side ever considered him for selection.

Stuart Watson

Magnus would relish

a Nigerian call-up

By Stuart Watson

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COLCHESTER United's stand-in skipper Magnus Okuonghae says it would be an honour if the Nigerian national side ever considered him for selection.

The 6ft 3in centre-back was born in Croydon but qualifies to play for Nigeria through his family.

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And while he might be leading the U's out against Leyton Orient today, there may come a time in the future where Colchester are robbed of his services on international weekends like this should his standard of performance continue to keep rising.

“It's always in the back of my mind and it would be an honour for me and my family if I ever got the chance to represent the national team,” said Okuonghae.

“I keep getting onto Ademola Bankhole (Colchester's Nigerian goalkeeper coach) to pull a few strings and get someone down here to take a look at me, but no one has been in touch yet!

“It's not at the forefront of my mind at the moment though. If you'd have said to me a year ago that I would be captain of a League One club that is pushing for promotion wouldn't have believed you.”

Colchester snapped up Okuonghae on a free transfer from League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge in the summer and he has looked more than competent at the higher level.

Such has been his rapid improvement on the field and his growing respect off of it that the 23-year-old was handed the captain's armband by manager Aidy Boothroyd when Pat Baldwin was injured last month.

And he has relished the task as the Essex club have conceded just two goals in an unbeaten six game streak.

Nigeria host Mozambique tomorrow before travelling to Kenya next Wednesday for two World Cup Qualifiers.

But it would be worthwhile for one of their scouts to be at Brisbane Road today as, not only would they get a chance to run the rule over Okuonghae, but also take another look at U's team mate Kayode Odejayi.

The striker has just one cap for the Super Eagles to his name so far - a second half substitute appearance against Austria in a 1-1 draw friendly draw last year - but has been in top-form since his loan switch from Barnsley to the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Odejayi has scored three goals and earned two penalties in his four games at the Essex club and must now be considered as a serious contender for a national squad which includes fringe strikers in the form of Joseph Akpala (Club Brugge, Belgium) and Osaze Odemwingie (Locomotive Moscow, Russia).

Okuonghae would be competing against the likes of Yusuf Mohammed, Obinna Nwaneri (both FC Sion, Switzerland), and Dele Adeleye (Sparta Rotterdam, Holland) to earn his place as a back-up defender.

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