Afelokhai set to step in for injured Uzoho
Enyimba Goalkeeper, Theophilus Afelokhai may be invited to step into the injured Francis Uzoho’s shoes ahead of the forthcoming African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho.
Uzoho was injured during Nigeria’s 1-1 draw with Brazil in Singapore at the weekend with doctors ruling out the former Golden Eaglet for six months. Uzoho’s absence has created anxiety among Super Eagles’ followers as the Cyprus-based goalkeeper was seen as having grown to fill the gap left by Vincent Enyeama, who retired from the national team three years ago.
However, fellers from the national team camp indicate the Coach Gernot Rohr is contemplating drafting the Enyimba goalkeeper to replace Uzoho in the team.
Super Eagles’ Media Officer, Toyin Ibitoye told The Guardian yesterday that Rohr is exploring other options, including the inclusion of Afelokhai in the squad, adding that Dele Alampasu is also in the picture. “But that does not mean the coach is not delighted with Daniel Akpeyi’s recent performances in South Africa. We keep our fingers crossed,” he said.
Afelokhai has been the CHAN Eagles number one goalkeeper ahead of Ikechukwu Ezenwa since the African Nations Championship qualifiers began.
Meanwhile, former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Ike Shorunmu has dismissed the belief in some quarters that the national team is in panic mode because of Uzoho’s injury.
He noted that the Super Eagles handlers are experienced enough to groom the reserve goalkeepers to take up responsibilities when the need arises, adding that Nigeria still had players good enough to take up Uzoho’s gloves.
He urged the Eagles’ technical crew to continue encouraging all the national team goalkeepers to do their best, stressing that panicking over the absence of a particular goaltender is not good for the progress of the team.
“Uzoho’s injury should not create panic that would make other goalkeepers in the Super Eagles feel they are not good enough.
“I believe the coaches’ know all the goalkeepers’ worth and how to use any of them. Any goalkeeper invited to the Super Eagles by all standards should be among the best in the country, so I see no reason for apprehension when the number one goalkeeper is injured.
The Eagles coaches should try as much as possible to douse the tension caused by Uzoho’s absence. That will help in instilling more confidence on the other goalkeepers,” he said.