The performances of Nigerian goalkeepers domestically and in tournaments are providing reasons to cease worrying about that department of the Super Eagles going into this year’s FIFA World cup.
Yes, with the unfortunate illness of star goalkeeper Carl Ikeme and indifferent displays of some of the his deputies late last year gave rise to panic in some quarters, but the storm appears to be over.
So, what has changed?
In the African Nations championship tournament currently taking place in Morocco (CHAN), the goalkeepers have been simply and unreservedly superb.
In the semi-final this week against Sudan, substitute goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye’s performance was jaw dropping.
The FIFA world cup winner at u-17 level established he is more than just a back up goalkeeper.
Coming on for the injured first choice goalkeeper, the 27 year old shot stopper made some astonishing saves which aided the Super Eagles in protecting their lead and ultimately winning the match 1:0.
First choice goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa has also had a brilliant tournament thus far. His crucial saves at key times and overall command of his defensive line contributed directly to the Eagles reaching the semi-final.
If you recall, Ezenwa was also in goal throughout the WAFU (West African) football tournament late last year when Nigeria came second, thus, he will be going to the FIFA World cup (if selected) with recent tournament experiences.
Also, you have Daniel Akpeyi (despite recent high profile errors) doing very well for his club in South Africa while young Frances Uzoho continues to play regularly for the “B” team of Deportivo La Coruna in Spain. In fact, he has featured for the main team this season and also gave a good account of himself in Nigeria’s demolition of Argentina 4:2 in a friendly match late last year.
If things continue this way, then the Super Eagles goalkeeping department will be in safe hands going into the world cup in June.