A goalkeeper they say is the last line of defense, tasked with protecting the goal from the opposing team’s attacks.
The importance of a goalkeeper to any football team cannot be over-emphasized as their position in the field of play seemingly looks to be the easiest but when duty calls and the wrong decision is made then it will cost the team negatively.
Over the years, the Nigerian senior men’s national team popularly known as the Super Eagles have produced formidable goalkeepers with the likes of Peter Rufai taking centre stage at the FIFA 1994 World Cup hosted by the United States as well as the AFCON that same year alongside the late Wilfred Agbonavbare.
In the early two thousands, Vincent Enyeama assumed the number one role and has since then gone on to make over one hundred international caps and is widely regarded as one of Africa’s greatest goalkeepers of all time.
The post-Enyeama era however has been one that Nigerian fans will always want to forget easily, especially in the light of recent games.
Although, it looked promising at the beginning with Carl Ikeme who was immediately integrated into the squad making solid performances and putting in solid shifts.
Most fans were temporarily tempted to believe that the former Wolverhampton Wanderers goalie was a better shot-stopper than the former Lille man at the time but his national team career was short-lived due to health reasons and went on to prematurely retire from professional football after medical consultations.
Since then, the current crop of goalkeepers has been all but utterly disappointing as none of them have ever been able to reach the level of Vincent Enyeama or Carl Ikeme.
Maduka Okoye despite being a six-footer concedes cheap goals with his most recent error occurring at the AFCON 2021 round of 16 fixture against Tunisia as he misjudged a ferocious shot from outside the box.
Uzoho on the other hand certainly started well in his early days with the national team but has since then been in a shadow of himself as he has been recently involved in several blunders, as well as conceding cheaply from set pieces.
Most Nigerians have been tempted to be attached to superstitions stating that the goalkeeping department is cursed.
The fact that the current coach Jose Peseiro is sticking to goalkeepers who have constantly failed to command first-team shirts at their various clubs is somewhat absurd because the local league can confidently boast of fantastic shot-stoppers who are hungry to cement a starting spot with the national team namely, Olorunleke Ojo, Amas Obasogie with a host of others.
All Nigeria Soccer understands that Amas Obasogie has been nothing but pure class since gaining promotion with Bendel Insurance two seasons ago from the Nationwide League and is seen by many as an untold revelation for the Super Eagles.
A modern goalkeeper known for his cat-like reflexes and his impeccable ability to command and organise his defense, Amas might just be the shot-stopper the Super Eagles might have been missing since the retirement of Vincent Enyeama.
His ‘sweeper-keeper’ traits might prove to be instrumental for the three-time African champions at next year’s AFCON as his razor-sharp distribution ability compliments the flock of athletic forwards currently in the Super Eagles.
Penalty stopping also seems to be one of the 25-year-old’s strengths.
Ultimately, the inclusion of the Bendel Insurance goalie to the national team’s final squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations seems imminent due to the current goalkeeper crisis that has taunted the Super Eagles since the departure of Vincent Enyeama and Carl Ikeme.
Obasogie, who was called up to the national team for the World Cup qualifiers due to the withdrawal of Maduka Okoye from the squad, will certainly relish an opportunity to show Nigerians why he might be the answer to Nigeria’s longstanding goalkeeper crisis at the biennial tournament come next year.