Timbers' Dike makes case for Nigeria's African Cup squad
Though January is normally reserved for international training camps and friendlies, there is one MLS player who just might be seeing competitive international action.
Portland Timbers forward Bright Dike made a strong case on Wednesday for his inclusion in Nigeria's squad for this month's African Cup of Nations after scoring his team's lone goal in a 1-1 draw with the Catalan national team, which included Barcelona stars Xavi, Carles Puyol, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, as well as AC Milan forward Bojan Krkic.
The 25-year-old Dike, who made the starting lineup and earned his second appearance for Nigeria, finished off a picture-perfect counterattack in the 55th minute, taking two deft touches in stride to create space for a left-footed shot, which he smashed into the back of the net for an equalizer.
Though Dike is still a long shot to make the squad, competing for a place with European-based stars like Victor Moses (Chelsea), Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United) and Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow), among others, the impressive showing is another feather in the cap for the forward who scored five goals for the Timbers after returning from a half-season loan from the LA Blues of the USL Pro.
Nigeria head coach Stephen Keshi has until Jan. 9 to submit his final 23-man squad for the Cup of the Nations to the African Confederation. The Super Eagles open the tournament against Burkina Faso on Jan. 21 in Nelspruit, South Africa.