The Super Eagles are having a hard time finding their starting goalkeeper

Prior to the 2023 AFCON in Ivory Coast, the Nigerian national team, the Super Eagles, has been struggling with goalkeeper instability.

Peter Rufai, Best Ogedengbe, Ike Shorunmu, Alloy Agu, and Vincent Enyeama were just a few of Nigeria’s previous great goalkeepers.

According to, these goalkeepers ruled the roost for a long time in the professional game.

For instance, prior to his retirement in 2015, Enyeama had been the Super Eagles’ unchallenged starting goalkeeper for over a decade.

Since his retirement, the Super Eagles have been without a reliable starter in goal.

Dele Alampasu, Oladele Ajiboye, Daniel Akpeyi, Carl Ikeme, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Maduka Okoye, and Francis Uzoho are just some of the goalkeepers Nigeria has tried after Enyeama retired.

However, none of them have yet cemented their position in Nigerian football mythology or the hearts of Super Eagles fans.

The issue has not been resolved as of yet. As the 2023 AFCON approaches, the situation is becoming more dire and alarming.

Uzoho, who plays for Cyprus side Omonia, Enyimba’s Olorunleke Ojo, Hapoel Jerusalem’s Adebayo Adeleye, and Okoye, who plays for Udinese, were all invited by Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro for their recent international friendly games against Saudi Arabia and Mozambique.

The Super Eagles were placed in a group with the host nation of Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea Bissau for the 2023 African Cup of Nations.

However, no squad can claim to be AFCON champion material if their goalkeeping is subpar.

The current Super Eagles have the most difficult situation in goalkeeping of any senior national team in Nigerian football history.

Some Nigerians continue to hold goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi responsible for the Super Eagles’ loss at the 2019 AFCON.

They thought that Algeria’s 2-1 semi-final win over Nigeria couldn’t have been achieved without a free kick from former Manchester City winger Rhiyad Marhez.

Akpeyi’s placement behind the wall he set up allowed the astute Mahrez to poke in the game-winning goal with little effort.

And in Cameroon at the 2022 AFCON, Nigeria lost to Tunisia 1-0 due to goalkeeper Okoye’s lapse of concentration.

Okoye failed to deliver in a crucial moment, and the group stage’s strongest squad and tournament favorites, the Super Eagles, were knocked out in the round of 16 by COVID-19-ravaged Tunisia, who finished second in their group.

However, the tactical gaffes of the bench suggest that the significance of Okoye’s mistake should not be overstated.

In a similar vein, Argentina qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar thanks to an error by Nigerian goalkeeper Uzoho on March 29.

Thomas Partey’s low drive from the edge of the box snuck through Uzoho’s knees for the decisive away goal that put Ghana ahead of Nigeria in the World Cup qualifying standings.

Uzoho’s mistake also led to Saudi Arabia’s first goal in the two recent international friendly versus Mozambique.

When Mozambique scored first, the 25-year-old was still caught off guard.

Unexpectedly, after Uzoho’s mistakes against Saudi Arabia and Mozambique, coach Peseiro backed him.

When asked about the Super Eagles’ goalkeepers’ poor performances, Peseiro pointed to the constant onslaught of shots they faced from Nigerian players.

The Portuguese man recalled, “I recall being advised to change the goalkeeper when I arrived here. I had conversations with all of them, but none felt safe because people were always picking on them. I bear the risk of their blunders if I delegate to them. I have to do a better job of training Uzoho the next time around.

According to football fans and stakeholders are becoming increasingly concerned about the number of goalkeeping blunders made by the national team.

In an interview with  Dawaki Rangers’ head coach Audu Ojo emphasized the need of goalkeepers learning from their predecessors whenever possible.

Ojo, who stressed the value of change, argued that football’s goalkeeping position is one of a kind and crucial to a team’s success.

Goalkeeping in football is unlike any other position. Coaches, it’s crucial that teams prioritize the goalkeeper position.

According to Ojo, “coaches need top clash goalkeeper trainers for their keepers,” which is why the Super Eagles are unable to find many great goalkeepers in recent years.

Ojo said, “First and foremost, we must not forget that a good goalkeeper is as good as his defence,” in response to a question about whether or not the current crop of Super Eagles goalkeepers is good enough to lead the team to victory in the 2023 AFCON in Ivory Coast.

The squad will be at the mercy of the opposition if the strikers are scoring goals but the defense is leaking and the goalkeeper is letting in goals.

If the goalkeeper commits a mistake, that does not mean he should be executed. I have faith that Uzoho will grow from his experiences.

In order to improve as a goalkeeper, he requires positive reinforcement. I saw one of his Europa League matches where he played Manchester United and he was fantastic.

Uzoho can lead Nigeria to victory in Ivory Coast, and all he needs is some positive reinforcement and the right trainers to help him along the way. However, the squad also has to improve its defense, midfield, and offense.

He said, “One positive aspect of goalkeepers is that they develop and improve with age.”

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