–As gift for his 17th birthday
Taiwo Awoniyi celebrated his 17th birthday on Tuesday and promised to score goals for the Flying Eagles against Lesotho in a 2015 AYC qualifier this weekend.
The former U17 World Cup-winning striker scored two goals against Tanzania in the previous round of the qualifying tournament.
“I wish to thank God for the opportunity to add another year in my life and I now wish to celebrate this by scoring goals against Lesotho on Saturday,” he said.
“There is nothing better I can give to my coaches and teammates than to get the goals that will give us this victory.”
Awoniyi combined upfront with Kelechi Iheanacho for Nigeria to win a record fourth FIFA U17 World Cup last year and the lanky striker said Iheanacho’s recent exploits at English Premier League club Manchester City will also fire him up.
“I’m not surprised at all by what Kelechi has shown at City because he has a great foundation provided by our coaches,” he said.
“He is a close friend and all my goals at the U17 World Cup were from assists provided by him.
“He will soon prove himself in the EPL once given the chance.
“This can only be a motivation for me and I also prove myself at my Swedish club Kalmar.”
Awoniyi recently trained with Kalmar and said he enjoyed his experience there.
“Both the players and officials were very wonderful,” he said.
“The first time I visited the club, it was very cold. But this time I played two matches with the U21s, I assisted a goal in my first game and scored a goal and provided an assist in the second game, which we won 4-1.”
In the meantime, midfielder Ifeanyi Ifeanyi finally trained with the rest of the squad Tuesday evening.
He is nursing a hamstring injury, but it appears the defensive midfielder has recovered in time for Saturday’s qualifier.