LAGOS – After the Teranga Lions of Senegal stunned the world in their maiden appearance at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan in 2002, reaching the quarterfinal and beating the then defending champions, France, 1-0 in the opening match, they were the-most-sought-after national team for friendly matches in Africa.
In one of the matches they played moments after they came back from their memorable World Cup, they engaged the Super Eagles, which were made up of home base players.
A fan, Kayode Williams, who lives in Ahmadiyya area of Lagos, while speaking on this, said: “Ezenwa was not fully used in Egypt. He showed a lot of promises in the World Cup qualifiers and I wonder why the coach did not use him against Algeria because his reflexes are better than those of Akpeyi and Uzoho,” he said.
Apart from Ezenwa, the domestic league boasts of a number of good goalkeepers like Theophilus Afelokhai of Enyimba, who won the best goalkeeper award in the recently ended Nigerian season.
Afelokhai height and positioning make him a good option. This is one area Akpeyi failed in Egypt. Afelokhai is imposing and very articulate, as he showed in the NPFL Super 6, where his one-on-one saves against Akwa United’s Mfon Udoh and Ndifreke Effiong in one of the matches were applauded by fans and analysts.
Apart from Afelokhai, Olorunleke Ojo is one goalkeeper that has distinguished himself in the Nigerian topflight. His saves kept Akwa United top on the abridged league season and with a vast experience spanning so many years, nothing should stop the goalkeeper from being tested in the league.
Olufemi Thomas is another highly experienced goalkeeper in the domestic scene who plays for Rangers International. The junior international is a veteran of the league and has shown consistency with the Flying Antelopes and other clubs has laced his boot.
Another notable goalkeeper in the domestic league is Suraj Ayelosos of Kano Pillars. He has been very consistent with the Sai Masu Gida with performances that keep the club among the best in the country.
Lobi Stars boasts of a very good goalkeeper in John Lawrence and it is instructive that Rohr take a look at him as well.
Moses Ocheje of Remo Stars may be playing in the Nigerian National League with Remo Stars but we gathered that the former Sunshine Stars goalie had issues with his former employers and in a stop-gap measure, teamed up with the Sky Blue on the interim. He is highly experienced in the game and has donned the colours of a number of NPFL clubs.
Throwing his weight behind the need for NPFL goalkeepers, in a chat is Victor Ezeji, a veteran of the league.
He said: “If we have better goalkeepers playing abroad, we can understand but now that all that we have playing abroad are not doing well, it is better that Rohr uses all the time he spend in travelling abroad to look inward and solve the goalkeeping crisis.
“Look at Afelokhai; his performance for Enyimba made them reached the CAF Confederation Cup semifinal.
“Everyone can attest to that. What of Kano Pillars Suraj Ayeloso? He is a very good goalkeeper. All these guys need is to build confidence in them; believe in them and they will make Nigeria proud,” he said.
Also speaking to our correspondent, Alloy Agu, the Super Eagles coach, said that they welcome any better player of Nigerian descent, including goalkeepers, anywhere around the world.
“We are still open to new players, including goalkeepers, because the desire of the coach is to see a better Super Eagles that can make Nigeria proud anywhere. So if you have a better goalkeeper than the one we have in the team, let us know,” he said.
Analysts believe that giving the home base goalkeepers a chance will bring healthy competition in the team and make all the goalkeepers to sit up.