Following the release of the 25-man Super Eagles 2023 AFCON squad and Peseiro’s decision to leave out Isreal based Adebayo Adeleye, SportsRation corresondent CARETAKER predicts that, embattled Francis Uzoho will retain the first-choice goalkeeper spot for Nigeria at the tournament.
WHO ARE THE INVITED GOALKEEPERS
Jose Peseiro named three goalkeepers in his 25-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Ivory Coast.
Francis Uzoho is joined by Enyimba FC skipper Ojo Olorunleke and Chippa United of South Africa shot-stopper Stanley Nwabali who gets a first full international call-up.
ADEBAYO ADELEYE IGNORED
Hapoel Jerusalem of Isreal shot-stopper Adebayo Adeleye was strangely ignored by Peseiro for the AFCON, despite featuring regularly for his club and having earned call-ups to the national team during the qualifying series.
The 23-year old is not injured, is not inactive and has no disciplinary issues in the National team, therefore there could be only one reason for his omission, at least until otherwise proven by the Super Eagles coach, Jose Peseiro.
PESEIRO’S MIND FIXED ON UZOHO BETWEEN THE STICKS FOR NIGERIA
Despite the massive call for Uzoho to be dropped as Nigeria’s first-choice goalkeeper following a poor run, Peseiro’s mind is fixed on having the Omonia Nicosia shot-stopper between the sticks for Nigeria.
Peseiro will crown his choice on the fact that Uzoho is the only experienced option with the team of the three invited goalkeepers.
Ojo and Nwabali have never tasted full international action with the Super Eagles.
Caretaker is of the opinion that keeping Adebayo Adeleye out will reduce pressure on him [Peseiro] to drop Uzoho with the other two untested at national team level.
The talks about Stanley Nwabali arriving as the new Super Eagles goalkeeper will start and end on social media and news articles while Uzoho has won the heart of Peseiro and so will get another chance to redeem his national team career.
HOW OMONIA NICOSIA HELPED PREPARE UZOHO FOR THE TASK AHEAD
In recent weeks, Francis Uzoho has enjoyed consistent game-time at his Cypriot club, Omonia Nicosia.
Omonia Nicosia manager Sofronis Avgousti had previously trusted Brazillian goalkeeper Fabianho for all the matches and so Uzoho’s national team poor form could be attributed to match rustiness.
To prepare him for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, Avgousti has trusted Uzoho in goal to get valuable game-time and be ready for the task ahead.
Peseiro’s hands may not be totally out of this move, recall he also visited Chippa United where he spoke with the coaches and watched Stanley Nwabali in action as he moved to solve the issues with the goalkeeping department.
THE THREE NATIONS TOURNEY IN UAE – FINAL REHEARSAL
Nigeria will camp in Abu Dhabi to finalise preparation for the AFCON.
While in the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria will join fellow AFCON-bound teams Burkina Faso and DR Congo for a three nations mini tournament.
That will serve as final rehearsal and there Peseiro intends to test his methods and choices for the last time.
Except he commits another error during the mini-tournament, expect Uzoho to retain his place as Super Eagles first-choice goalkeeper at the AFCON.
IS HE UZOHO A BAD GOALKEEPER
No, but in recent national team outings, Uzoho has been poor with errors that has left Nigerians tired of his sight in goal for the Super Eagles.
But for a goalkeeper who was without game-time at club level, he was confidence-short and so may have taken enough boost from the recent games for Omonia Nicosia leading to the AFCON.
It is important to predict in conclusion that; how well whoever Peseiro puts in goal performs will determine how far the Super Eagles go at the tournament.