It was only a few weeks ago that Bright Dike got his first ever national team call up in a friendly vs. Venezuela last November and now he's heading right back into the mix. This time, however, it's for something that could be a whole lot more important for his development.
On December 29th, later this week, Dike will head to Faro, Portugal to partake in the Nigerian training camp ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to kick off January 18th. This is good for Dike because, at the very least, itshould help to keep him sharp during the off season when players usually lose their edge. Even better, however, is the opportunity for him to compete in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Currently, there's no confirmation on whether this training stint is just a trial to see if he can make it, or whether he's a lock. My guess is the former. So, worst case scenario he gets some valuable training under his national team. Best case he's off to compete during the months of January and February in one of the world's few continental championships. Either way it's great news for Timbers fans and Bright Dike.
For reference, the Africa Cup of Nations will be held in South Africa rom January 18th-February 10th, giving Dike plenty of time to be back and match fit ready for the 2013 season. He could even make the pre-season tournament!
What do you think of Dike heading to train with Nigeria?
Full press release:
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers today announced that forward Bright Dike has been called into camp with the Nigeria National Team as it prepares for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in January.
One of 32 players called into camp, Dike, 25, is scheduled to join the Super Eagles on Saturday, Dec. 29, in Faro, Portugal. The Nigeria National Team has scheduled friendlies against the Catalonia National Team on Wednesday, Jan. 2 and against Cape Verde on Wednesday, Jan. 9.
Dike, whose parents were born in Nigeria, earns his second call-up with the Nigeria National Team. He earned his first cap for the Super Eagles on Nov. 14, starting in a friendly against Venezuela in Miami, Fla.
Nigeria is one of 16 countries competing in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, which begins Jan. 19 in South Africa. The Super Eagles have been drawn into the tournament’s Group C along with Burkina Faso, Zambia and Ethiopia. Nigeria will finalize a 23-player roster for the tournament.
A native of Edmond, Okla., Dike finished his second MLS season as one of the Timbers’ leading scorers, recording five goals in 12 games over the final half of the 2012 campaign. Additionally, he tallied five goals in five appearances with the Timbers Reserves and recorded six goals and two assists during a two-month loan spell with the L.A. Blues of USL PRO last season.
Dike has compiled six goals in 23 matches over his first two MLS seasons with the Timbers.