An Unusual Goalkeeping Headache for Super Eagles ahead of AFCON Qualifiers vs Leone Stars

An Unusual Goalkeeping Headache for Super Eagles ahead of AFCON Qualifiers vs Leone Stars

Nigeria is sitting top of Group L in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and looking quite comfortable going into matchday three against Sierra Leone.

 

But do the Coaches still have a Goalkeeping problem to ponder?

The Super Eagles have picked up maximum points from two games, winning 2-1 at home against Benin Republic and 4-2 away to Lesotho.

 


A record of six goals scored and three conceded for the Super Eagles means while they’ve been clinical upfront, the defense has also been solid.

 

The usual panic over the goalkeeping position has been almost none existence in this qualifying campaign with the trio of Daniel Akpeyi, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Maduka Okoye providing the Coaches with very healthy options.

 

Akpeyi was between the sticks in both games played so far with Ezenwa and Okoye named on the bench as deputies.

 

The 33 year-old has also been first choice for Kaizer Chiefs for the most part this term in the PSL, while Ezenwa also enjoys that luxury with Heartland FC in the NPFL.

 

However, Okoye has not made any league appearance for Fortuna Dusseldorf in the German Bundesliga this season.

 

Rather, He has been a regular in the Regionalliga and featured 13 times with the struggling side.

 

The 20 year-old offered good cover on his international debut against Brazil, coming on a substitute for Francis Uzoho after the latter injured his knee.

 

Those 27 minutes were ‘very emotional’ the young goalkeeper later revealed, but it very much cemented his place in the squad.

 

So, ahead of next month’s double header against the Leone Stars, the Coaches might probably have a selection headache for the first time in a long while in that position.

 

The injury to Uzoho does not make it any easier either, on the contrary it weighs a nagging question about who gets the axe when he returns to full fitness.

 

While the selection dilemma is ideally a good thing for the team, questions around which goalkeeper is suitable for the team moving forward also poses a crucial query.

 

Maduka is the youngest of the bunch and looks promising while Akpeyi and Ezenwa, who are over 30 years old, can be considered to be at the tip of the slopes, of their respective careers.

 

With the Average age of the Super Eagles at 25, it is one of the youngest squads in Africa and have only being to two major international tournaments.

 

The team needs experience to improve on the achievements and shortfalls from 2019 and particularly in the goalkeeping department.

 

It will be interesting to see which players get the call up for the game against the Leone Stars when the NFF announces the names of invited players later this month at the latest.

 

With just a goal in two games, Sierra Leone know they face a tough test against the Eagles defence, the second best in the group.

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