Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, has disown reports that he has made Nigerian Deportivo de La Coruña goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, as the first choice for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in summer.
He made the clarification that goalkeeper trainer Pionetti Enrico was sent to monitor the trio of Uzoho, Akpeyi and Alampasu; Pionetti Enrico is scheduled to visit Uzoho who play for Deportivo de La Coruña in Spain, afterwards move to South Africa to observe Chippa United’s Daniel Akpeyi and later Dele Alampasu who plays in Portugal.
‘’Uzoho is working hard, but he is only third choice keeper at La Coruna, and very young. Let’s work on all our goalkeepers,’’ Rohr said on a radio programme Mega Sports.
‘’We will give the same attention to Alampasu, Agu will work on the local lads as well.
‘’We will work equally with all the goalkeepers we have available, even with Akpeyi in South Africa.’’
It was a moment of joy last October when a relatively unknown Francis Uzoho became the youngest foreign goalkeeper to feature in the Spanish Primera Division when Deportivo La Coruna drew 0-0 with Eibar.
Subsequently, he made another appearance against Girona, and soon caught the attention of Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr.
The 19-year old was given his maiden senior national team call-up in November’s friendly with Argentina, and came on as a second-half substitute for the disappointing Daniel Akpeyi in the comeback 4-2 friendly win in Krasnodar.
He impressed, and instantly won the hearts of many fans, prompting speculation that he could be the future of Nigeria’s goalkeeping.
However, since the Girona game, Uzoho has not featured for the senior team, but has rather been a regular part of the B team featuring 15 times and keeping 10 clean sheets for the Deportivo B team which many fans believe is a great sign of the promise he has for the future.
Nonetheless, many believe as a reserve player with limited playing time, the Aspire Academy graduate may not be a good fit for the Super Eagles number 1 spot; but is that enough to set him apart from his goalkeeping rivals ahead of the World Cup?
Does being a reserve player hinder his prospects of being the preferred choice ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, with Carl Ikeme still a long way from recovery and Vincent Enyeama ruled out for a possible return?
Enyimba’s Ikechukwu Ezenwa still looks primed to be the favourite goalkeeper to man the post in Russia.
He kept in the final three World Cup qualifiers and featured in both the WAFU Cup and African Nations Championship in Ghana and Morocco respectively.
He put in strong performances in both tournaments as the Super Eagles made it to the finals of African Nations Championship in Morocco where he sustained huge injuries that kept him out of service for Nigeria against Morocco, which Nigeria lost owning to poor performance of the team without a sound goalkeeper.