Nigeria’s Super Eagles face Poland in a pre-World Cup friendly on Friday in Wroclaw, Poland as both teams step up their preparations for the global showpiece billed for Russia this summer.
www.aclsports.com have been spending time with the Eagles in their training base in the Polish city and the team’s goalkeeping prospect Francis Odinaka Uzoho shared some of his goalkeeping stories with Calvin Emeka Onwuka.
Uzoho was an unused substitute for Nigeria at the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in the United Arab Emirates and the ever smiling lad was quick to dismiss the notion that every goalkeeper in a team must have some degree of madness in the quest for command and excellence.
“I’m actually not mad,” said Uzoho with a broad laughter.
“I’m not mad. I understand what people mean but it’s just what people think about goalkeepers. Actually, goalkeepers have to be calm so it is contrary. It is not what they think; a goalkeeper needs to be calm to be able to be a good goalkeeper,” added the 19-year old.
Super Eagles debut
Uzoho’s rise to the top of international football has been meteoric. Only in the summer of 2016, he joined RC Deportivo La Coruna’s B side from Qatar’s Aspire Academy but a dramatic decision by former manager Pepe Mel ensured he made his LaLiga debut in October 2017.
What swiftly followed was an invitation to Nigeria’s senior side and his subsequent bow with the team in a high profile friendly game against Argentina last November.
“I felt happy (with the debut) although it was a decision taken before the game started.
“So, I felt good and when second half came and they asked me to enter into the field, I was really happy.”
Asked if he felt nervous coming up at such stage? He quickly retorted.
“Tension? No, I don’t think so.”
Many Nigerian football fans are worried as regards who stays between the sticks for their beloved Super Eagles in Russia. Nigeria’s first choice goalkeeper at the last two World Cup finals (South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014); Vincent Enyeama has not played for the team in over two years and has not played at senior club level in nine months.
Substantive first choice Carl Ikeme was diagnosed with acute leukemia last year and his replacements have not really inspired comfidence. Uzoho is one that is highly rated by team’s head coach Gernot Rohr and could just be the long sought messiah in the position. Uzoho reveals Enyeama, who had about 100 caps for the Eagles is his goalkeeping idol.
“Talk of now and when I was growing up, my idol was Vincent Enyeama because I watched him a lot and also David De Gea because I’m a Manchester United fan.
“Both of them are the goalkeepers I looked up to and still looking up to now,” he says.
Uzoho has the chance to further enhance his credentials when the Eagles face Poland and Serbia over the next five days. Interview Video here
Interview written by Football Chief, Fisayo Dairo