Hearts are my only concern right now – Oshaniwa

Juwon Oshaniwa isn't too worried by his Nigeria snub. Pic: Ian Georgeson
Juwon Oshaniwa isn't too worried by his Nigeria snub. Pic: Ian Georgeson
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JUWON OSHANIWA will visit friends in London during the international break as his absence from the Nigeria squad continues.

His last cap came almost a year ago and he isn’t included for this week’s friendlies against Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. He is confident, however, that playing consistently at Hearts will earn him a recall.

Oshaniwa waved club colleagues like Callum Paterson and Sam Nicholson off on international duty at the weekend knowing he would stay put. The 25-year-old is eager to add to his 17 caps but isn’t fretting about the situation. Nigerian Football Association officials have reassured him he is still on the radar of recently-appointed coach Sunday Oliseh.

His last appearance in Super Eagles green came last November in a 2-2 draw with South Africa. Then-holders Nigeria failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations that night. Oshaniwa, their World Cup left-back in Brazil just four months previously, is adamant his international career will continue.

“I have won the Africa Cup of Nations for my country. I’ve played a lot of games in the biggest fiesta [the World Cup] so I’m not worried, I’m not bothered. I just keep doing what I’m doing,” said the player, who arrived at Tynecastle in August from the Israeli club FC Ashdod. “The most paramount is what happens here, where I work and where I earn my daily bread. I just put the national team out of my head. The glory and the achievements here are going to announce my being back to the national team.

“At no time have I been disappointed because Nigeria is a great nation for football. There are a lot of players and there is a new gaffer who is handling the national team. He needs to be given a lot of time. Nigeria have a lot of players playing abroad so he needs to get time to watch over some people and to try some players out. This is what he said he wants to do – give players some trials and see so that he knows what he is doing. Maybe, when a major tournament is coming up, then he will beckon the usual faces.”

Oshaniwa speaks with great intensity regardless of topic. It is one of his most endearing traits, for he seems to be to be passionate about everything. Passionate about God, passionate about his career, passionate about Hearts, even passionate about being left out of his national team. He is asked if playing in Scotland can help his international prospects.

“Of course. Even when I was still playing in the domestic league [in Nigeria], I’ve been a regular with other competitors like Taye Taiwo and Elderson Echiéjilé. They are big players. I’ve been working hard and doing what I do best. At no time have I been discouraged. I’m the kind of person who just keeps his head straight and lets the achievements and success announce my return.

“At any time, any moment, I’m always ready. Everybody knows me in Nigeria for that. Like I said, it’s a new gaffer and he needs some to give some younger ones a trial. I’m not the only one who hasn’t been called up. At the moment, it is just friendly games. There are a lot of competitive games coming up. He [Oliseh] has already said in the media that he is in the building process. He wants to give some young players a chance so we’ll see how it goes.”

Hearts’ players have this weekend off as their next game is not until Sunday week at Dundee United. Oshaniwa admits it is a chance for those carrying minor knocks to recover. He intends heading to London to meet up with friends, with rest and recuperation a priority.

“It’s a recuperation period for the players,” he said. “We have a had a lot of competitive games but, now we have an international break, at least some people will work on any deficiencies with their health. Those who have minor knocks can go through proper treatment and come out fresh for the next few games.

“I think I need to go and see some of my friends in London and spend a few days with them. Then I will return back to Edinburgh fresh as well. I’ve got some knocks, like my shoulder, but I try to relax it and treat it. I will see how healthy it is and if I’m going to be available for subsequent games.”