Three-time African champions, Super Eagles are currently facing a goalkeeping crisis as evidenced in the recent performances by their number one goalkeeper, Francis Odinaka Uzoho.
Following his shambolic performances in the recent friendly games against Saudi Arabia and Mozambique, football fans have continued to express their concerns over goalkeeping issues in the Super Eagles as the team prepares for the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’Ivoire.
It will also be recalled that Maduka Okoye who walked out on the team when he alleged a threat to his life by Nigerian fans following his disappointing performance at the last AFCON in Cameroon was handed another invitation to beef up the goalkeeping department.
Each of the two goalkeepers will be remembered for breaking the hearts of Nigerian football fans at different times. While Okoye will be remembered for conceding the goal that sent Nigeria out of the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon, Uzoho’s poor goalkeeping denied the Super Eagles the ticket to the 2022 World Cup.
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In view of their underwhelming performances, there have been calls from different quarters for the former captain of the team, Vincent Enyeama, a member of the 2013 AFCON winning squad, to be recalled from retirement to lead the team to the 2024 AFCON.
The former goalkeeper of Enyimba had an absolutely remarkable journey in his football career. He initially made his breakthrough while playing for Ibom Stars before joining Enyimba in 2001.
After an illustrious career spanning two decades, he decided to retire from international football in October 2015. In 2020, he finally hung up his boots, marking the end of a truly remarkable journey filled with achievements and accolades.
Meanwhile, a former Nigerian international, Peterside Idah, recently called on the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to bring back Vincent Enyeama to the national team to help fix the crisis that has bedeviled the team.
Idah said that Enyeama should be engaged as the Eagles’ goalkeeper coach for the 2023 AFCON. According to Idah, Enyeama’s presence in the Eagles would motivate the likes of Uzoho to step up their game.
So, there has been a division among Nigerian football fans. While some are of the opinion that even as he has retired, if recalled, he will still fall back on his experience to save the team from further embarrassment at the next AFCON, others are of the view that if brought back, Enyeama might be as catastrophic as Peter Rufai at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.
Trust Sports, therefore, interviewed a cross section of Nigerian football fans who shared their views on the goalkeeping crisis in the Super Eagles and the calls for Enyeama to be recalled to the team.
As much as Vincent Enyeama was an incredible goalkeeper for Nigeria and one of the best in the world, he shouldn’t be called out of retirement to man the sticks.
To be honest, it is really embarrassing that a country like Nigeria, despite having so many talented players, has not been able to train or develop a tangible replacement for Vincent Enyeama who has been in retirement for nearly a decade. It is really embarrassing.
Furthermore, it becomes uninspiring to the athletic youths of the country that the NFF is being called up to recall a player who is 41 years old out of retirement to feature at the AFCON 2024.
It is just like Italy saying they are calling back Buffon or Germany recalling Oliver Khan. It is very embarrassing.
Alex Amughan, Sports Co-ordinator, RCCG North Central Zone
Instead of asking for Enyeama to be recalled to keep at the next AFCON, I will encourage NFF to engage him to coach the goalkeepers. He is still young and energetic to train and groom the young goalkeepers.
Secondly, NFF should set up a goalkeeping Academy and Enyeama should go round Nigeria to organise seminars to deliver lectures on the latest innovations in goalkeeping. With this suggestion, Nigeria will never lack good goalkeepers again.
Abisola Alawode, Media consultant
There is John Noble who shone with Enyimba before joining the foreign legion in Tanzania who seemed to have been shut out from the national team. Noble could have been blacklisted because he asked for his entitlements after his invitation to the team for Qatar World Cup qualifying campaign.
I read somewhere that he has won best stopper in the Tanzania top league thrice since joining Tabora United and has remained the club’s first choice goalkeeper. Ask football stakeholders in Tanzania and they will tell you the Nigerian is the best goalkeeper in their league presently. So why can’t he be the number one keeper for us? Enyeama is old.
Sola Padonu, Cleric
It’s a capital no! We have better goalkeepers in our local leagues that we can take advantage of, if they are given the opportunities. Don’t forget Enyeama was a product of our local league before going professional in Europe.
Daniel Ayeni, US based lecturer
Enyeama should be the goalkeeper coach in my opinion. He has the requisite experience as top-rated goalkeeper and captain that led Nigeria to win the AFCON.
Tunji Adewuyi, Civil Servant
Absolute no. Such a suggestion is ridiculous to put it mildly. The coaching staff should scout more talents in the goalkeeping department, both home and away. Uzoho and Okoye also need the help of the team psychologists to regain confidence.
Esther Shie, Consultant
Why can’t the NFF look inwards and bring in home- based goalkeepers. From the past, most if not all the goalkeepers for the Super Eagles came from the local league before they moved to Europe or other continents.