…We are monitoring others – Aloy
By Amaechi Agbo and Albert Akota
With less than 115 days to the kick-off of the 2018 FIFA World Cup final billed to start in June in Russia, Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr has dispatched one of the team’s goalkeeper trainers, Pionetti Enrico to Spain to do some work with young goalkeeper Francis Uzoho
Enrico, who came into the Nigeria senior team’s mix ahead of the B squad’s 2018 African Nations Championship qualifying fixture against Benin Republic six months ago, arrived in Spain penultimate weekend.
Uzoho was reserve goalkeeper as Nigeria’s U17 boys won the FIFA U17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in 2013, and won his first senior cap in a friendly against Argentina in Krasnodar in November last year. He obviously impressed Coach Rohr.
Ball fans are a bit concerned about Super Eagles’ goalkeeping duties at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, with Carl Ikeme (who was between the pipes for the qualifying matches against Swaziland, Zambia and Algeria at the beginning of the race) still undergoing treatment for leukemia.
Uzoho has kept 10 clean sheets out of 14 matches for the Deportivo La Coruna B squad this term and showed tremendous confidence and agility in the Eagles’ come-from-behind defeat of reigning world vice champions Argentina.
In an exclusive interview, Super Eagles Goalkeeper trainer Aloy Agu, has said that Rohr sending Enrico to Spain was based on his being close to the area where Uzorho is based adding that all the goalkeepers Nigeria intends to use in the World Cup are closely monitored.
“Uzorho is the one that people know. Pionetti Enrico is going to check there because he is closer there, he lives there. We are also looking at (Ikechukwu) Ezenwa too and (Daniel) Akpei as well. We are monitoring all the players. There are people who have been sent out that are monitoring all our players. There are officials and agents who are monitoring all our players, knowing what they are doing week in, week out. It is part of our programmes for the super Eagles. Ezenwa is monitored here in Nigeria and we are also monitoring Daniel Akpeyi. We are also monitoring Dele Alampasu and Francis too.
“What I can say to you is that we are looking at all the options we have both within and outside the country to make sure that come World Cup 2018, we will have the best hands to man the goalkeeping department of Nigeria.
On whether he would recall former Super Eagles Captain and goal tender, Vincent Enyeama, the coach said “I have left the Vincent Enyeama issue with the head coach, he has the final say. I have left that for a long time. Vincent is a very good goalkeeper; you cannot take that away from him. He has done so well for Nigeria and we appreciate what he has done but at the same time, life is a choice. It is the choice that you make that you live by. So, I don’t know the choice that the coach has and even Vincent has but the head coach has the final say on that area.”
Nigeria will open her World Cup quest in Russia against Croatia in Group D on June 16.