Nigerian national team head coach Gernot Rohr handed a first-time invitation to the relatively unknown Aba Elephants shot-stopper, but his club-mate insists it’s an opportunity well-deserved
Enyimba International FC’s mercurial midfielder Austin Oladapo has hailed teammate John Noble as the best goalkeeper in the Nigeria Professional Football League.
And as the safest pair of gloves in the country, Oladapo maintains that it was the right call for head coach Gernot to invite Noble to the Super Eagles ahead of the national side’s continental engagements in March.
Rohr included Noble in the 24-man list of players preparing to tackle the Benin Republic and Lesotho in the two remaining matches of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series on March 27th and 30th.
It was a bit of a surprise call for many as the 27-year-old shot-stopper only joined Enyimba football club last August on a three-year deal after a glorious spell in Togo.
Noble, who played for Cameroon’s Panthere Sportive Nde in 2018, won the 2019/2020 Togo Premier League title with ASCK De Kara.
The Ogoni-born goalie, however, only started the campaign as Enyimba’s second-choice behind Olufemi Kayode.
But an injury to Kayode thrust Noble to the forefront, and he played a crucial role to help Fatai Osho’s men advance to the group stages of the CAF Confederations Cup.
Five-time Nigerian international Oladapo is convinced that there is presently no better than Noble among the home-based goalkeepers.
“He’s the best in the league at the moment, and we are happy to see his effort has been rewarded,” the midfielder told Brila FM.
“The squad celebrated with him when we heard about the news, and we really wish him luck and hope he gets the opportunity to play.”
Sparta Rotterdam’s Maduka Okoye and Apoel’s Francis Uzoho are the other two goalkeepers Rohr invited for the games against the Squirrels and the Crocodiles.
However, Okoye is the German tactician’s preferred number one following the youngster’s exploits for club and country in recent times.