Okoye, Uzoho’s absence opens door for home-based goalkeepers as camp opens in U.S.
Following the absence of the usual contenders for the goalkeeping position, Maduka Okoye, Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi and John Noble, the coast is clear for home-based players to stake their claim for the nation’s number one position, Super Eagles’ Goalkeepers’ Trainer, Ike Shorunmu, has said.
Nigeria will play two international friendly matches with Mexico and Ecuador in the United States on May 20 and June 2 respectively.
Nigeria’s current number one goalkeeper, Okoye, withdrew from the team ahead of the friendlies for personal reasons, while Uzoho was not listed in the squad for U.S.
Shorunmu, believes the home-based goalkeepers have the qualities to fill the vacuum successfully, adding, however, that they must be bold and assertive when they get opportunity to man the post if they want to be taken serious.
Shorunmu told The Guardian before departing Nigeria for the U.S with other team officials and the home-based players that the friendly games would be used to assess all the players on the trip to determine those with the right qualities and attitude to play in the new national team.
“All the invited keepers have been tested and found good enough to represent the country and so, Okoye and Uzoho’s absence will not be felt too much.
“The Eagles managers are focused on picking quality players from the friendly games for the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. We are trying a rebuild the Super Eagles after the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying debacle and we are looking out for the very best Nigerian players for the team.”
He explained that Okoye chose to withdraw from the squad for personal reasons and not because of any grudge against Nigerians, adding that the Watford FC new star will return to the squad at the appropriate time.
Meanwhile, Mexico’s national team, The EI Tri, led by manager, Gerardo Martino, arrived in Dallas, United States of America, yesterday morning, ahead of the friendly, which will hold at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Saturday.
The North Americans have also lined up friendlies against Uruguay and Ecuador, as part of their tour of the U.S., which is part of their build-up to the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Mexico and Nigeria have met seven times in the past, four of which have ended in draws.
The most recent game was the El Tri’s resounding 4-0 mauling of Nigeria made up of home-based players at the Memorial Coliseum Stadium, Los Angeles, California, in July 2021.