Sports Nigeria’s Goalkeeping Quandary


Ahead of the African Cup of Nations qualifiers in March, Nigeria national team coach Gernot Rohr finds himself in the middle of a goalkeeping conundrum. Francis Uzoho, touted as Vincent Enyeama’s ultimate heir is sidelined for a lengthy period, while his understudy Daniel Akpeyi has been far from convincing. The South Africa-based Akpeyi is currently the most experienced glovesman, but his performances in recent past have not gone well with a section of the Super Eagles fans.

Coach Rohr will have other options in Ikechukwu Ezenwa, but he has failed to several tests for due to his lack of composure at competitive levels, while Maduka Okoye is young and inexperienced.

The Super Eagles kick of the AFCON qualifiers against Sierra Leone in March, and fans can join Betway online betting Nigeria for the match and other qualifiers as well.

Up to this point, no one knows for sure who will be Nigeria’s first choice stopper for the immediate future, but according to Rohr, the door remains open for all performing goalkeepers playing in and out of the country.

“In the goalkeeping department we are unlucky. We lost Carl Ikeme who had to stop his career and the injury to Francis Uzoho. Already Uzoho who didn’t play for his club was a problem and then he came back and is injured now for six months. But the surgery went well and he’s on the right way to come back.” Lamented Rohr.

Maduka Okoye who turns out for Dusseldorf in the Germany second tier will obviously be in coach Rohr’s mind. He was used in a friendly match against Brazil, and he justified his call despite his young age. However, the German gaffer is not keen to rush an inexperienced keeper into the national team set up.

“He did well against Brazil but it is not yet the moment for him to start a game because he needs to know the team better. But the future is for him, he’s only 20.”

The available goalkeepers are well aware of the quandary besetting the Super Eagles, and it will be a golden chance to step up. The situation presents a healthy competition that could see Nigeria return to the days of the legendary Peter Rufai and the recently retired Vincent Enyeama

Last week, Austin Ejide made himself available for selection in a message targeting coach Rohr. The 35-year old debuted for the Super Eagles nearly 20 years ago, but his last appearance for the national team was back in 2014. He has so far started all 21 league matches for his Israeli side Hapoel Hadera, keeping 9 clean sheets in the process.

“I’ve kept nine clean sheets this season and we all know that goalkeepers always get better with age. I’ve also been following the Eagles and I believe that with my consistent performances in Israel, there is every chance it opens the door to the possibilities of another call up.” Said Ejide.

It remains to be seen who Rohr picks for the upcoming assignment against Sierra Leone, but given the number of options, it is everyone’s guess. Remember to place a bet on all qualifiers on Betway, from the web or on the app.
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