EXCLUSIVE: Any Super Eagles coach would have invited me – Sodiq Ismail

Sodiq Ismail is the first Remo Stars player to be invited to Nigeria’s national team, the Super Eagles. The defender was handed his debut call-up last month when the Nigeria Football Federation released Coach Finidi’s list for next month’s 2026 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa (7 June) and Benin Republic (10 June).

Sodiq spoke exclusively to Afrik-Foot on this opportunity and the challenges ahead.

Congratulations, Sodiq.
Thank you.

There’s a pinned message on your X handle (formerly Twitter). It is a response to an earlier tweet made by Victor Boniface showing him and his mother on a flight to Europe. You wrote that hopefully it would be your mother’s turn someday. Can we say you are getting close to that day with your call up to the Super Eagles?
Yes, I am by the grace of God. It is a gradual process and I am working hard towards it and by the help of God I will get there.

How did you receive this call up opportunity from Coach Finidi? Was it a shock to you or you were already hopeful for this chance sooner or later?

No, it wasn’t really a surprise to me as such because I have been working hard towards it day-by-day and now I thank God for it. I was quite hopeful that one day it could happen…

But what was the feeling like when the good news got to you? How was it received in the Remo Stars camp?
Everybody was so, so happy with me, it was well celebrated in camp.

Sodiq Ismail
Photo by Remo Stars media

You played against Kwara United soon after your invitation to the Super Eagles was announced to the world. How was the star outing like in Ilorin?
It was an exciting one for me. I was well received and people were very happy for me and I felt very good.

Looking at your stats in the league, it appears you are quite an attack-minded defender. You recorded your 13th assist with that match against Kwara United. Is that the way you play naturally or it is largely the formation at Remo Stars that has helped you this much?

I would say that’s the way I play naturally but again, the formation in my team requires me to always join the attack very well and for me to achieve my aim.

Now it’s one thing to be called up to the Super Eagles camp; it’s another to make the team, and then another to get invited again and again as a regular. How prepared are you for this challenge?
I am one hundred percent ready for the task and I am working very hard every week; every single day to make Nigerians proud, and this I believe will ensure that I always get a call up.

Sodiq Ismail

Finidi George was a full time coach in the domestic league (NPFL). Can we say that his practical knowledge helped your case? Could it have been the same if it were another coach not familiar with the league, whether a foreigner or even a Nigerian coach?
Yes, I think so. I think I would have been invited by any coach because of the way I have been playing. Yes, I think so.

As it is, you have become quite an inspiration to players in the NPFL who are hoping that someday they could get such a national team opportunity. You’re surely also an inspiration to those that had given up and I guess the remaining league matches would be played with ferocity. Can you say something to these hopefuls…
I will surely make these league players; my colleagues proud in a way that makes everyone know that there are good players in the league.

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Pius Ayinor

Pius Ayinor started his football writing with Complete Sports/Complete Football. He has served as the Sports Editor of The Comet newspaper; Deputy Sports Editor of Thisday/Editor Global Soccer and Sports Editor of The Punch.
The World Cup and Olympics are familiar terrains having covered the Korea/Japan World Cup; Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018 as well as the Athens 2004 Olympics, London 2012 and the Rio 2016 Games.