Femi Solaja with report
Even as pressure continues to mount on Super Eagles Head Coach, Gernot Rohr to have a rethink on his number one choice goalkeeper for Nigeria to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt this summer, the Franco-German tactician has ruled out a change in his approach heading into the tournament.
The three-time African champions have struggled to fill the void created by the shock retirement of the country’s most capped player, goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama in 2015, and the exit of replacement Carl Ikeme due to leukemia.
Stakeholders in the country’s football have however expressed reservations over the ‘average’ performance of Uzoho at the last World Cup finals in Russia and have called on the coach to look into direction of other goalkeepers around the world but the German mentor has backed his goalkeeping trio to keep their places in the squad for continental showpiece.
Uzoho’s fellow Super Eagles shot-stopper Daniel Akpeyi has himself fallen in and out of contention at Absa Premiership club Kaizer Chiefs, but despite admitting his goalkeeping concerns, Rohr is not about to call-up another goalkeeper.
“We have a little challenge because our young goalkeeper Uzoho has not really played at his club this season,” Rohr told BBC Sport.
“Uzoho made one mistake in the last qualifier (against Seychelles) but we gave him a chance with the youth under-23 and it was good for his confidence.
“Daniel Akpeyi is playing now for a big team in South Africa and doing very well. Our third goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa too is good so we can work harder with them.
“We have a good spirit as a team since the World Cup, so there’s no time to bring in new players,” Rohr concluded.
Nigeria makes a return to the Africa Cup of Nations this year, having missed the last two tournaments.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is in the process of negotiating friendly with the Super Eagles and the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in their build up to the continental show piece.
Zimbabwe FA President Felton Kamambo, in an interview with Herald Newspapers sad plans for a warm-up game against Bafana Bafana are at an advanced stage, while they are also angling for another match against Nigeria.
The date for the match against Bafana Bafana has already been set for May 26, while engagements with Nigeria are yet to reveal anything.
Kamambo also said they are also courting a third team to play before they head to Egypt for the tournament, which runs from June 21 to July 19.
“We are serious in our preparations for the Afcon tournament and we have quite a number of plans in place, some that I cannot talk about at the moment because of contractual agreements that first have to be met before going public,” Kamambo told The Herald.
“In terms of serious friendly matches, we actually have one against South Africa that we hope will come to fruition because plans are at an advanced stage.
“This is part of a joint send-off ceremony that we hope to have together with the South Africa national team that is also going to Afcon finals.
“A friendly match between the two teams will be played on the 26th of May the next day after the send-off ceremony slated for the 25th. We intend to have the friendly match here, but it is yet to be finalised.
“We will also go to Nigeria where we intend to play a game in Nigeria, but that is yet to be confirmed. We are still working on contractual agreements.
“I think we will play three serious friendly matches that will afford the coaches a chance to fine tune their squad ahead of the tournament.”
Zimbabwe are seeking to reach the AFCON knockout stage for the first time at this year’s continental showpiece.
To reach that goal the Warriors will first have to navigate Group A, in which they face hosts Egypt, DR Congo and Uganda.