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Super Eagles goalkeeper woes: Uzoho & Okoye issued warning after Nigeria errors vs Algeria

4:19 am AEST 29/9/22
Francis Uzoho - Nigeria vs Guinea-Bissau Afcon 2021
After Francis Uzoho’s howler against Algeria, ex-Nigeria international Ifeanyi Udeze has called for the country's goalkeeping problem to be solved.
  • Udeze says there is no time to let underperformers improve
  • Wants those players not pulling their weight to be discarded
  • Both Uzoho and Maduka Okoye were at fault in friendlies

WHAT HAPPENED? As Nigeria fell to a fourth consecutive loss to Algeria, Uzoho was beaten by Youcef Atal’s long-range effort that gave the Desert Foxes their second goal on Tuesday.

On Friday, Maduko Okoye, 23, who was in the same squad as Uzoho for the Algeria friendly, blundered when the Super Eagles drew 2-2 against Algeria B.

Under no pressure, Okoye – after receiving a back-pass from Valentine Ozornwafor - took time to clear his area and invited pressure from Karim Aribi, who dispossessed him and scored the first goal in that game.

The consequent performance of both goalkeepers has generated a debate as to whether Nigeria have competent custodians.

WHAT WAS SAID: "We need to solve the issue in the goalkeeping department because this is the national team," Udeze said, as quoted by Complete Sports.

"And whether we like it or not, there’s no patience to give a player or goalkeeper one or two years to improve. Such patience is for club sides, not the national team.

"At the national team, if you’re not good enough, you have to give others the chance to try, and if that person is good enough, he should man the post. That’s why it’s the national team."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Since the exit of Vincent Enyeama in 2015, Nigeria have struggled to get a goalkeeper who matches the Africa Cup of Nations-winning goalkeeper’s calibre.

Enyeama led the Super Eagles Afcon to third-place finishes in the 2004, 2006, and 2010 tournaments, before he captained the West Africans to the 2013 victory.

In the 2013 edition, after helping Nigeria see off Burkina Faso in the final with a clean sheet, he was named in the team of the tournament after he conceded only four goals in six matches.

Enyeama’s profile is further highlighted by the fact that he was part of Nigeria’s World Cup squad in 2010 and 2014.

Although there was renewed hope when Carl Ikeme made a bright start as a Super Eagle, his career was cut short when he underwent cancer treatment.

Ikeme made his debut against Tanzania in 2015 and made three appearances early on in Nigeria's successful qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup. He was not in the Russia-bound squad, though, as he had to undergo treatment.

Daniel Akpeyi failed to nail down a regular spot for the Super Eagles, especially after struggling at Kaizer Chiefs. He had a disappointing 2020/21 season and could not get enough time in the subsequent season, and was eventually released. After spending several months as a free agent, he signed for Sekhukhune united earlier this month.

WHAT NEXT FOR OKOYE and UZOHO: Should coach Jose Peseiro maintain them in the team, both need to improve in order to help Nigeria get wins in the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers next year.