Uzoho absence reopens door to Ezenwa and Akpeyi


Nigeria discover themselves in a goalkeeping pickle as they put together to face South Africa in what’s shaping as much as be one of many largest grudge matches of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying collection.

It is an sadly acquainted state of affairs.

Simply earlier than the primary recreation of the marketing campaign, the Tremendous Eagles have been hit with information of the enforced retirement of goalkeeper Carl Ikeme following his leukaemia diagnosis.

South Africa-based Daniel Akpeyi was referred to as up and leapfrogged Ikechukwu Ezenwa for the primary recreation of the post-Ikeme period towards Algeria, acquitting himself properly.

Nevertheless, that answer did not final lengthy.

Akpeyi seemed nervy and indecisive as South Africa ran out 2-Zero winners within the subsequent recreation in Uyo, and seems to have lose the religion of coach Gernot Rohr within the course of.

Ezenwa was handed the reins for the remainder of the World Cup qualifiers, and whereas he proved competent, neither Rohr nor the followers have been satisfied that he was the current, not to mention the longer term.

Distrustful of each Ezenwa and Akpeyi, Rohr started to groom then 19-year-old Francis Uzoho for the position, including sending his goalkeeper trainer to work with the youngster in Spain’s decrease division.

Uzoho went on to change into the Eagles’ primary, enjoying each recreation since approaching as second-half substitute in a 4-2 pleasant win over Argentina in Krasnodar in November.

Now, information of Uzoho’s damage in a league recreation on Sunday, an damage which is predicted to maintain him out of motion for 4 weeks, has as soon as once more thrown the goalkeeping state of affairs into confusion – as Ikeme’s absence did beforehand.

Once more, the Tremendous Eagles face Bafana Bafana in a recreation which has significance past the one level that Nigeria must safe qualification, and as earlier than, the main choices to fill the void are Ezenwa and Akpeyi.

In the intervening time, Ezenwa is first in line to step in, simply as he did through the World Cup qualifiers, however that is on no account sure, as Akpeyi continues to mount a problem.

Rohr has additionally instructed KweséESPN he’ll name up a 3rd, alternative goalkeeper.

For Ezenwa, this presents one other, maybe closing alternative to point out that he’s greater than only a physique for goal apply in coaching.

It’s nearly honest to say that the Enyimba stopper has nailed down the quantity two place, the perennial backup throughout the Tremendous Eagles squad.

These twin and sudden retirements of Enyeama and Ikeme took Nigeria’s goalkeeping place from being the strongest within the staff to one among its extra unsure areas.

As third-choice behind Enyeama and Ikeme, not many anticipated Ezenwa to make all of it the best way to primary, and the overall feeling was of him being the token concession to the home league.

All that modified with information of Ikeme’s prognosis and sudden retirement, as Ezenwa was promoted to second then first-choice.

He may need been relegated again once more had it not been for Akpeyi’s jittery displaying towards South Africa. In equity to Ezenwa, he did a reliable job within the 4 video games by which he saved objective, though his error in freely giving a useless penalty to Cameroon in Yaounde did him no favours.

Below bizarre circumstances, he would naturally have been anticipated to be a shoo-in for the place, however his lack of motion at membership stage is a giant disadvantage.

Ezenwa has misplaced his place at Enyimba to Theophilus Afelokhai and has solely performed one home recreation in over 5 months, an Aiteo Cup semi-final loss to Kano Pillars.

That chance solely got here as a result of an damage to Afelokhai.

He appeared nervy after coming off the bench for his injured teammate within the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup semi-final first leg, and did not even make the bench for the return fixture.

Which means Akpeyi, a daily fixture for Chippa United in South Africa’s PSL, may nostril in entrance. If he’s picked, Akpeyi would wish to beat any residual nerves and insecurity each from that earlier fixture towards Bafana, and from his hideous error towards Argentina final November.

Neither goalkeeper evokes confidence among the many followers, however Rohr’s resolution to offer Uzoho all of the pre-world Cup enjoying time with little for his back-ups might now come again to hang-out him.

Barring any additional accidents on that entrance, Nigeria’s coaching camp in Asaba will probably be bruising battle for the goalkeeping spot.

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