The withdrawal of first choice goalkeeper Francis Uzoho from the squad of Nigeria to face South Africa due to an injury picked up over the weekend for his club Elche in their 1-5 loss to Cadiz has thrown up a lot of debate on who should be first choice for the game.
Owngoalnigeria.com first broke the news of the invitation of goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai as replacement for the injured Uzoho, meaning he will join the duo of Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi in the battle to keep goal against Bafana Bafana.
Afelokhai is expected to push for a spot in the team but our senior editor Osas Mahawi reckons this might just be the game for former first choice goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi to redeem himself and grab back his spot.
Here are his reasons.
1. Better Match Fitness Than The Rest – Since the NFF leadership crisis brought the Nigeria Profesional Football League to a premature end, it’s worthy to note that the duo of Theophilus Afelokhai and Ikechukwu Ezenwa have not kept games as much as Akpeyi.
Ezenwa has just three games at club level in six months to his name while Afelokhai has six games under his belt in same period. However Akpeyi has made ten appearances this season. A tally he could better before the game comes up in two weeks time.
2. Playing At Home – Akpeyi will be playing in familiar surroundings when Nigeria take on South Africa as he has been plying his trade in the rainbow nation as first choice goalkeeper of top division side Chippa United since joining the club in 2015 from Warri Wolves.
3. Point To Prove – Many have forgotten so soon that he was at a time preferred to Ezenwa by coach Gernot Rohr until his gaffe in the game against Argentina prior to the World Cup. At a time he was called up as a late replacement for Carl Ikeme but preferred in goal ahead of Ezenwa who was in the camp before his late invitation.
Ezenwa have since eclipsed him to the role of second choice behind Uzoho and this game could be the tonic he need to prove he still has a future with the senior national team of Nigeria.
4. Familiar With The Opposition – He virtually knows most of the players he will be up against if he gets to play in goal and that alone could help his confidence level in the game. As much as it could also give the opponent’s an edge, his knowledge of the players of South Africa is one that shouldn’t be discarded by the technical crew.