Gernot Rohr must not overlook in-form Awoniyi anymore

The Union Berlin forward has never featured for Nigeria at senior level.

Taiwo Awoniyi (Instagram/Taiwo Awoniyi)

Taiwo Awoniyi looked destined to take on the world after shining at youth level for Nigeria.

Signing for Liverpool was a confirmation of that. One looks at Kelechi Iheanacho and his break at Manchester City or Isaac Success at Watford, these two men were teammates with Awoniyi at Under-17 level.

It never quite worked for Awoniyi as imagined with work permit issues not enabling him register as a player in the red half of Merseyside. His loan spells to less-fancy sides like FSV Frankfurt, NEC Nijmegen and Royal Excel Mouscron wasn’t what was part of the script either but since joining Union Berlin, first on loan then permanently this year, we’re finally getting to see the player Awoniyi was primed to be.

The Ilorin-born man has had a goal involvement in all but one of every game he has played this season. He’s got one goal each in the Bundesliga games against Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Awoniyi also has a goal in the German Cup and two goals and an assist in a victory over KuPS that sent Union Berlin into the Europa Conference League group phase, their first-ever foray in European football.

It’s simply the best start for Union Berlin who are on a 14-game unbeaten run in all competitions stretching back to last season. It's such a wonderful form for Die Eisernen who finished seventh last term after an 11th place finish in their maiden Bundesliga campaign in 2019-20.

Awoniyi is clearly the man of the moment and it's about time Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr stop overlooking him. He is yet to make his senior international bow and it was one of the factors that hindered him from getting his work permit while the United Kingdom was still under the European Union.

Awoniyi has long desired to play for the Super Eagles and is holding on dearly for that chance to come some day.

“I think it is every player’s dream to play for his national team,” he said earlier in 2020.

“But still you can’t control it and Nigeria is blessed with an abundance of football talents everywhere.

“That’s why I’m a football player and have represented my country in all age grades national teams from the U17 to U23 teams.

“It is good for me to be working hard towards meeting that target.”

Still only 24 years of age, Awoniyi has been likened to Nigeria’s all-time top scorer Rashidi Yekini due to his finishing. One will never know if that assertion is true until Awoniyi wears the green jersey.

The time therefore is now and Rohr must give it to him.

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Kunle is an avid writer with interest in topics on sports, politics and health. His articles have featured in Goal.com, Opera News and Vanguard News. He holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in International Relations and is an advocate for people living with Hydrocephalus and other neurological conditions.

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