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Goalkeeping Crises: Who Does Gernot Rohr Turn To After Uzoho’s Injury?

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Nigeria’s Goalkeeping position has been Rohr’s biggest headache since his appointment as the Super Eagles coach, long term number one Vincent Enyeama had retired unceremoniously from the national team after his misunderstanding with Rohr’s predecessor, Sunday Oliseh. Is very first duty was to convince Enyeama to make a return.

Unfortunately, the former Enyimba keeper refused and In his replacement was ex-Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme who for once looked like an instant replacement for Enyeama with impressive showings only for Leukemia to strike him down and out of football.

His impromptu retirement left a huge gap and job for Gernot Rohr to find a capable replacement and he turned to Daniel Akpeyi who initially got dropped after unimpressive performances especially in a qualifier against South Africa in Uyo.

Deputizing and subsequently replacing him was Ikechukwu Ezenwa who took hold of the number one shirt for the remainder of the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifiers and those of the 2019 AFCON qualifiers.

For two years, Nigeria shuttled between Akpeyi, Ezenwa and Uzoho, the latter who out of the blues became Nigeria’s Number one at the World Cup after impressing in a 4-2 win in a pre-world cup friendly against Argentina.

Thus the 2013 FIFA U17 World Cup winner led the line from the back in Russia and for the rest of 2019 AFCON qualifiers, afterward especially at the AFCON in Egypt, coach Gernot Rohr utilized all three goalkeepers but it was Daniel Akpeyi who minded the larger amount of games.

READ ALSO: Five Prospects Who May Become Super Eagles Key Players

After the AFCON Daniel Akpeyi was fizzled out of the National Team with many Nigerians not impressed with his displays, occasionally being jittery and is considered to be at fault for Riyadh Mahrez late winner in the semi-final, failing to save a freekick.

Subsequently, the two friendlies played by the Super Eagles have happened without Akpeyi as Maduka Okoye has been called up in his stead and Francis Uzoho finally looked like Nigeria’s number one goalkeeper for the few weeks coming.

Furthermore, he looked impressive and more improved compared to the games immediately after the World Cup. Unfortunately, Uzoho tore his knee ligament in the international friendly against Brazil on Sunday and such returns the Super Eagles back to the era of rotating and scratching deep for a quality, consistent and dependable shot-stopper.

With Uzoho out for up six months, he would miss Nigeria’s double 2021 AFCON qualifiers against the Benin Republic and Sierra Leone in November and the first International break in March 2020.

The first name to consider immediately is Maduka Okoye but the 20-year-old plays for Fortuna Dusseldorf II in Germany lower divisions and also is already part of the team set up. But who comes in to fill the vacant position.

The majority would quickly point towards the Nigeria Professional Football League as a good ground to search for experience goalkeepers, Theophilus Afelokhai has been a name that has refused to go away since the goalkeeping crises started as many pointed him be ahead of Ezenwa who deputized him at Enyimba.

However, his recent unimpressive showings with the home-based Eagles where he has conceded six times in two games against Togo has not favored his arguments.

Nevertheless, there are decent names that could still be considered from Dele Ajiboye to Suraj Ayeleso, Femi Thomas just to mention a few who could be considered albeit their recent lack of game time may make it difficult to ascertain their level of competition but with the league expected to start before the next international break, might just be a good time to return to action.

READ ALSO: Los Angeles FC’s Shot-stopper Philip Ejimadu Could Well Be A Quick Fix For Super Eagles

Only a handful of Nigerian goalkeepers are active in Europe at the moment and holds little to no hope for the national team as a saving grace to provide a backup, aside Maduka Okoye, Sebastian Osigwe is another option even though the 25-year old plays in the Swiss second division with Kriens.

David Nwokolor played for the Flying Eagles at the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup in New Zealand but he has been in Croatia with Rijeka, he could get a chance with the national team. Another youth international who could get a look in is Dele Alampasu however, he has been inactive for a while now and may not stand a chance against active players.

Alternatively, an unlikely return for Vincent Enyeama or Austin Ejide may just be a short term plug to fix the problem, while the former last played for Lille in 2018, the latter still plays for Hapoel Hadera in Isreal and has been linked with a return as well.

In any case, whoever is brought in may not be the best or even national team quality but for the Super Eagles, it has become a case of when the desirable is not available, the available becomes desirable. Even in this case, it is difficult to identify the most desirable in the available.

Thankfully, the duty of finding a desirable in the undesirable falls on one man and his coaching crew, he gets paid $55,000 for nothing, Gernot Rohr over to you.

 

 

 

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Daniel is a passionate lover of Nigerian football. Follows local football and the national teams religiously. Aside from writing, he also does Sports analysis on Radio. Write to me on danycrusoe@gmail.com or follow me on twitter@danycrusoe95

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