Super Eagles Coach Gernot Rohr had tried a few hands in the goalkeeping position since Carl Ikeme was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in 2017. He had experimented with Enyimba safe hands and Chippa United Daniel Akpeyi in between the sticks for the qualifiers for the tournament against Cameroon and Algeria as well as the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa.
The German coach has also brought in Deportivo La Coruna’s third-choice keeper Francis Uzoho, who was handed his national team debut in the 4-2 friendly win against Argentina in Krasnodar, Russia.
Here are some goalkeepers who can stake a claim for a place at the World Cup:
Ikechuwu Ezenwa (Enyimba)
Since the arrival of Rohr, former FC IfeanyiUbah first choice Ezenwa, who recently joined former African champions Enyimba, has been a regular feature in the Eagles. The 28-year-old former Flying Eagles keeper was in goal in the three World Cup qualifiers against Cameroon and Algeria. He is the captain of the home-based Eagles at the 2018 African Nations Championship in Morocco, where Nigeria won silver. He kept the team’s first four matches but was injured in the semi-final against Sudan.
Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba)
Facing competition with Ezenwa and Ghanaian Fatau Dauda has helped sharpened the skill of Enyimba keeper Afelokhai. The 29-year-old was the club’s first choice last season and has been in and out of the national team. He is an experienced campaigner on the domestic scene. Before joining Enyimba, he spent most of his career at Kano Pillars. Although he has yet to man the posts for Nigeria in any competitive game, he was a part of the home-based team in Morocco, where he was unused.
Dele Ajiboye (Plateau United)
First choice with 2017 league champions Plateau United, former junior international Ajiboye’s heroics helped the Jos club lift the title for the first time. He conceded only 21 goals last season en route to the club’s history-making feat. Ajiboye has some international experience, after helping Nigeria win the 2007 U-17 World Cup in Korea. He featured in two matches at the 2018 CHAN in Morocco – the semi-final, where he replaced injured Ezenwa, and the final against hosts Morocco. Ajiboye’s heroics in the semi-final against Sudan earned the team a place in the final of the competition. The 27-year-old however conceded four goals in the final of the competition.
Francis Uzoho (Deporivo La Coruna)
With a little international experience with the Golden Eaglets at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, which Nigeria won, Uzoho, who was the youngest Nigerian player at the tournament, broke into the Eagles after making history in October 2017 as the youngest ever foreign goalkeeper to debut in La Liga match. He won his first cap for the team in November after replacing Akpeyi in the second half of the Eagles 4-2 friendly win against Argentina in Krasnodar. He is currently with the Deportivo second team.
Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United)
Akpeyi has been a regular feature in the Eagles but despite his experience with the team, the 31-year-old has often been criticised for failing to communicate well with his defenders and also for his lack of good aerial judgment. He was second choice to Emmanuel Daniel at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The former Warri Wolves keeper conceded two goals in the 4-2 friendly win against Argentina but has been in fine form for South African side Chippa United in the Premier Soccer League.
Dele Alampasu (SC Feirense)
Feirense keeper Alampasu was in goal ahead of Uzoho as Nigeria won the 2013 U-17 World Cup in the UAE, where he was adjudged the best keeper of the tournament. He was the second choice to Joshua Enaholo at the 2015 U-20 World Cup and also a member of the 2014 CHAN team that won a bronze medal in South Africa. With a lack of regular playing time, Alampasu found it difficult to get a call-up to the Eagles recently.
Vincent Enyeama (Lille)
Enyeama has been in good form for French club Lille in recent years. But after the country’s most capped footballer quit the national team in 2015, there has been series of debate over his return to the national team under Rohr. Currently lacking playing time with his club, he has been considered a transfer target for struggling French Ligue 1 side SC Angers.
Other goalkeepers, who Rohr could have a look at are Suraj Ayeleso of Nasarawa United, who was voted the best goalkeeper in the domestic league last season; Joshua Enaholo of Abia Warriors; Emmanuel Daniel of Orlando Pirates; Sunday Rotimi of Rivers United; Femi Thomas of Enugu Rangers; Abayomi Folarin of MFM and Olorunleke Ojo of Akwa United.
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