The Super Eagles goalkeeping department remains one of the toughest puzzles for which Gernot Rohr is yet to find a permanent solution
The Nigerian national team is blessed with quality goalkeepers in Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi, and Ikechukwu Ezenwa. Still, the trio requires specialized training to excel in between the goalposts, according to former international goalie Peter Rufai.
Rufai was Nigeria’s undisputed number one for almost 15 years, with the former Deportivo La Coruna star a permanent feature during the country’s successful period from the mid-eighties to the late nineties.
But the Super Eagles goalkeeping role is currently up for grabs with none of the quartet of Kaizer Chiefs’ Akpeyi, Heartland’s Ezenwa, Deportivo La Coruna’s Uzoho and Maduka Okoye yet to make the Number one jersey his own.
Uzoho manned the posts for Nigeria at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, but Akpeyi was preferred at the 2019 African Cup of Nations tournament. Both Okoye – who made his international debut last year – and Ezenwa are yet to feature for the Super Eagles at a major championship.
Rufai, however, believes a special kind of training can elevate any of these goalkeepers to the next level.
“Nigerian goalkeepers need special nurturing,” Rufai said, as per the Guardian.
“Ikechukwu Ezenwa is a naturally gifted keeper. Uzoho is equally good when looking at his structure and skills, so also is Akpeyi.
“But beyond this, the goalkeepers need high profile training to be exceptional between the goal post.
“Every job has its tricks, and football is no different. I am working towards bringing out a blueprint on how to groom national team goalkeepers and also the ones at the grassroots so that the federation will work with it.”