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Austria Invite Lawal, Dash Eagles Hope

The hopes of having LASK and Austria-born goalkeeper, Tobias Lawal, invited into the Supers Eagles is heading for the rocks after the LASK goalie was handed a call-up by the Austrian national team for their 2024 Euro qualifiers against Estonia and another friendly against Germany, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

Lawal has been handed his first call-up by coach Ralf Rangnick as the Unsere Burschen seek a fourth appearance at the European championships.

The 23-year-old, who was born in Linz to a Nigerian father and Austrian mother, was earlier invited by former Eagles coach Gernot Rohr in 2020 but couldn’t feature due to passport issues.

Before then, he had played for Austria at junior levels and is now set for his first cap for the senior team. Coincidentally, his debut for the Austria U-21 team was also against Estonia in a European U-21 Championship qualifier on June 8, 2021.

If Lawal doesn’t get the nod against Estonia on November 16 in Tallinn, he could be considered for the friendly against Germany five days later in Vienna. It could further boost his interest in committing to Austria which already has another Nigerian descent, David Alaba, as one of their major players.

Following the Super Eagles’ documented goalkeeping problem, Lawal has been touted among the names that deserve a call-up to the Super Eagles to rival Francis Uzoho, Maduka Okoye, Adebayo Adeleye and Ojo Olorunleke.

Unlike other goalies in the Eagles rank except Adeleye and Olorunleke, Lawal has been consistent for LASK this season, appearing in 20 matches across all competitions and has kept seven clean sheets while conceding 19 goals.

While the FIFA eligibility rule permits a player to still switch allegiance even after featuring for a country as long as – the player held the nationality of their new association at the time of their first official appearance for their first national team – Lawal’s case however becomes difficult as he is not permitted to hold a Nigerian passport along with an Austrian passport.

Defending the invitation of Lawal, Rangnick was quoted as saying on the official website of the Austrian Football Association, “Tobias Lawal is doing well at LASK – both in the league and in the Europa League.

“He is a goalkeeper with a great perspective. We want to give him the chance to show himself.”

The goalkeeper had also expressed his desire to play for Nigeria but admitted the difficult situation around his nationality. As a result, he might be left with no choice but to stick with Austria.

Considering the difficulty around his nationality, if he gets the chance Rangnick has promised, Nigeria might as well bid him farewell and the hunt for the Super Eagles No. 1 ahead of next year’s AFCON in Ivory Coast will continue.

Source : Punch



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