Super Eagles AFCON goalkeepers: Peseiro must take a chance on Nwabali

The Super Eagles goalkeeping department has been a mess since Vincent Enyeama left the team after about fifteen years of service.

In that time he won the AFCON bronze medal three times and the trophy once. But, hey! After Enyeama left, Carl Ikeme did not do badly until illness ensured he had to end his career and since then the musical chairs of goalkeepers began.

However, with the Super Eagles coach deciding on the trio of Francis Uzoho, Ojo Olorunleke and Stanley Nwabali, he may have to take a chance on the Chippa United goalkeeper if the Eagles are to make any headway at the AFCON.

Francis Uzoho, a howler manufacturer?

A howler manufacturer is how Kelechi Onwudiwe, a sports broadcaster based in Abuja Nigeria describes Francis Uzoho, yet says he may just be the first choice for the Eagles.

“It is howler after howler after howler by Uzoho, even in matches that Nigeria wins, but the coach sticks with him,” Onwudiwe told

“He makes one or two good saves, but it is always interspaced with these panicky moments that he is never able to delete from his goalkeeping. I call him a howler manufacturer. He can’t get it off his game,” Onwudiwe said.

True to it, in the AFCON and World Cup Qualifiers, Francis Uzoho got on the wrong side of Nigerians because of his howlers, even with little or no pressure on him or the team. He was always in the news for his howlers.

“If I had a choice, Uzoho would not come near my goalpost, he is an absolute disaster of a goalkeeper. His defenders do not trust him, and there is a whole lot of disconnect between him and his defenders,” Kelechi Onwudiwe said.

However, it is looking like Uzoho will start the AFCON as first first-choice goalkeeper for the Super Eagles.

In the Cypriot league where he features, he has only played 5 games all season long. In those 5 games, he conceded 7 goals and kept one clean sheet.

Ojo must shake off the NPFL toga

Being a goalkeeper from the Nigerian League at a major tournament always feels like the slot was not merited but gotten as a result of quota system.

That is what Olorunleke Ojo will face as a member of the Super Eagles, the same feeling around the inclusion of Chigozie Agbim in Super Eagles teams under Stephen Keshi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa in teams coached by Sunday Oliseh, Samson Siasia and Gernot Rohr.

But one of the first things Ojo should do is to shake off that toga of NPFL slot in the team.

According to Kelechi Onwudiwe, “What Ojo should realise is that he is the goalkeeper of the Nigerian League champions, Enyimba and his body language should show he is not intimidated by the big stage too.”

At Enyimba this season, Ojo has played in 11 games, conceded 12 goals and kept 4 clean sheets, but what works as a disadvantage to him is that he is very much untested at international level and is unlikely to be put between the sticks on the big stage.

Ojo is big and strong. He has good reflexes and command of his area. He is also good with the ball at his feet, but he may just end the AFCON without a game under his belt.

Nwabali may be the best of the three

Of the three goalkeepers going to the AFCON, Stanley Nwabali may just be the best of the pack.

With a modest start at the feeder team of Sharks FC, he joined Go Round FC in the second tier Nigeria National League and was instrumental in defeating Rivers United to win the FA Cup in the state. He led the team to qualify to the Nigeria Premier Football League before moving to Enyimba, and then Lobi Stars, still in Nigeria.

Nwabali has a physical presence in the box, he is good at crosses, is a ball-playing goalkeeper and commands respect from his defenders because of his confidence between the sticks. He is also a good shot-stopper.

But Nwabali has had just one game at the International level, a 4-0 loss to Mexico in a friendly match where he played the full game.

“His frustrating time-wasting antics in the Nigerian league was his downside, but he has cleaned up his act in the South African Premier Soccer League, PSL. His ball handling is very good and he may be the best of the three keepers in the Eagles, just that he has hardly had Eagles experience before now,” Kelechi Onwudiwe says of him.

“If he continues the way he is going in the PSL, he might just be what we want.”

In the current football season, Stanley Nwabali has played 15 games, conceded 14 goals and kept 7 clean sheets for Chippa United.

No clear first choice, compared to the days of Yore

Former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama

The goalkeeping position in Nigeria has fallen to dangerous lows. The Eagles once had Peter Fregene in goal at the 1968 Olympic Games. In most of the 70s, it was the towering Emmanuel Okala and Best Ogedengbe in goal, while the 80s and 90s belonged mostly to Peter Rufai, Wlfried Agbonavbare and Alloy Agwu. Ike Shorunmu also had a say in the team from 1997 until 2002. From 2002 until 2017, Vincent Enyeama was the goalkeeper and these were all players who could hold their own against all odds. At the AFCONs they played, they were top of their game, and had the confidence of the other players, coaches and fans, but how things have fallen.

According to Akinbode Oguntuyi, a Nigerian football writer based in Canada, none of the current goalkeepers in the team can win Nigeria the Africa Cup of Nations.

“These goalkeepers cannot win us the AFCON. Uzoho is calamitous. When a goalkeeper makes a mistake it most likely leads to a goal and he is very prone to mistakes,” Oguntuyi told

Oguntuyi, however, suggests that despite all of Uzoho’s failings, he has the backing of the coach.

“Unless Uzoho gets injured, the other two may not see any action in the AFCON.

“Then again, unless there is something Peseiro saw in Nwabali that made him fly to South Africa to watch him, and then meet with him, I do not see how he gets to play.

“Olorunleke Ojo stands no chance of playing a game at the AFCON, in my opinion.”

“If Emiliano Martinez was not that good at the World Cup, Lionel Messi would not be world champion today. Are any of our goalkeepers that good? I’m sure we all know the answer to this.”

Since Peseiro became the coach of the team, he has tried Francis Uzoho and Adebayor Adeleye. He only used Adeleye in the game against Sierra Leone because Uzoho was suspended. So, in all of Peseiro’s games, he has stuck with Francis Uzoho, and this should send a message about what he may do at the AFCON.

Francis Uzoho will be Nigeria’s first-choice goalkeeper at the AFCON, but Peseiro could take a chance with Nwabali if he wants.

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