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Erico, Shorunmu divided over Super Eagles’ goalkeepers

By Samuel Ifetoye and Alex Monye
12 November 2016   |   2:08 am
Former Super Eagles’ Assistant Coaches, Joseph Erico and Ike Shorunmu are divided over the ability of the team’s current shot stoppers to step into the shoes of Carl Ikeme ...
Carl Ikeme

Carl Ikeme

Former Super Eagles’ Assistant Coaches, Joseph Erico and Ike Shorunmu are divided over the ability of the team’s current shot stoppers to step into the shoes of Carl Ikeme, who withdrew from Nigeria’s Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Algeria today due to injury.

In the absence of Ikeme, Coach Gernot Rohr has in his camp three goalkeepers, including Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Dele Alampasu and Daniel Akpeyi.

But while Erico believes any of the three goalkeepers can fit the bill in the game against Algeria, Shorunmu feels the trio should be psychologically prepared by the managers to bring them up to the standard needed for a game of that magnitude.

Speaking to The Guardian during the week, Erico said the person that will be in goal would depend on Coach Rohr’s plan.

“The choice of who will be at the goalpost will depend on the coach. For now, from the little that I know about the three goalkeepers, I believe any of them can stand in for the injured Ikeme. Ezenwa did well at the just concluded NPFL League; Alampasu has been doing well, so also is Akpeyi at his club in South Africa.

“They are all good goalkeepers. I think this is the time for anyone picked to prove that he is also good to be Eagles’ goalkeeper. It is a good opportunity for any of these lads to showcase himself,” he said.

Erico dismissed the fear that the goalkeepers could be under pressure to perform during the crucial match due to stage fright, adding: “There is always a starting point for everybody.

“That was exactly how Ikeme started after the withdrawal of Vincent Enyeama. Since his debut for the nation, Ikeme has never looked back and that is how the other goalkeepers too should look at it when called upon.

“No doubt, the match is going to be a very tough one. Remember, the Algerians have the caliber of players that we have too. And I know that they will be worried about us just as we are worried about them too. This is football, no team these days will walk over any team easily anymore. Coach Rohr should get the best legs to get the best result for us. I can only wish them the best,” he stated.

However, Shorunmu fears the absence of Ikeme might affect the team’s performance against the Les Fennecs of Algeria today.

He urged the senior national team officials to strictly monitor the activities of the three keepers in camp before making their final choice on who to replace Ikeme, saying that the goalkeeping department needs a keeper, who is technical fit to contend favourably with fast strikers.

The former Eagles goalkeepers’ trainer opined that the coaches’ decision on picking the first choice keeper should not be based on sentiments, but on the current form of the keeper.

“The absence of Ikeme might affect the Eagles, but if the coaches select the best out of the three keepers in camp there might not be much problem. The goalkeeping department is a technical position that needs a keeper that is in top form.

“It is quite unfortunate that Ikeme is out of the Algeria tie, but there is nothing anybody can do than to encourage the keepers on ground. All the keepers in camp have equal chance to be first choice keepers. It now depends on the coaches to pick the best without sentiments.

“The Super Eagles should approach the game against Algeria like the warriors. They should realize that losing the qualifier at home is dangerous for the team and therefore battle for a win,” he said.