Femi Solaja with Agency reports
After enduring fringe role last season, Super Eagles goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho is hoping for a positive return to Cyprus when he begins a loan spell with Omonia Nicosa from Spanish second division side, Deportivo La Coruna.
The Nigerian international has been under criticism after his ‘fair’ show at the last World Cup finals in Russia and the pressure may have been part of the many reasons why he lost his number one spot to fellow under-performing goal keepers Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa as third choice to the last AFCON tournament in Egypt.
Aside the criticisms of his performance at last year’s tournament, the 20-year-old endured a torrid time earlier this year after a loan spell at Cypriot rivals Anorthosis Famagusta was terminated because of irregularities in his work permit.
On the pitch it was also difficult after he was sent off for the first time in his career in April.
A lack of top-flight football cost him his place as Nigeria’s first-choice keeper ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, becoming third choice behind Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
“I learned a lot from last season’s experience; hopefully it will serve as a motivation to do well,” Uzoho, who joins Omonia on a season-long loan, told BBC Sport.
“I can say last season is in the past now and I hope to write a good chapter with Omonia by God’s grace and hard work.
“To move forward you can’t keep looking back, so I just want to remain focus on what lies ahead.”
Capped 14 times by Nigeria, he played all three matches as the Super Eagles exited the 2018 World Cup in the group stage.
But he made a solitary appearance at the just-concluded Nation Cup against Tunisia as the Super Eagles sealed a third place finish in Egypt.
“I was very happy to play for my county at the Nations Cup and to be able to do that in a match that got us a medal was incredible,” added Uzoho.
“I’ve started pre-season with the club on a positive note and I feel good about it.
“I just hope to kick off with positivity and help Omonia Nicosia achieve the club’s target this season.”
In October 2017, Uzoho became the youngest foreign goalkeeper to ever play in La Liga and marked a memorable Deportivo La Coruna debut with a clean sheet.
Uzoho was part of the victorious Nigeria squad at the 2013 Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, albeit without playing a single minute at the tournament.
He arrived at Deportivo from Qatar’s Aspire Academy in January 2017.