Former Super Eagles goalkeepers’ trainer, Ike Shorunmu had paid his dues keeping the goal posts for Nigeria and gave the revered Peter Rufai a tough time proving himself in the game.
While not taking anything away from coach Gernot Rohr and his technical crew since taking over the Super Eagles, Shorunmu, who recently resigned his post at Sunshine Stars has warned that the goalkeeping area as delicate as it is does not need any gambling.
Making particular references to the game against the Bafana Bafana clash in the AFCON 2019 qualifier in which Nigeria suffered a 2-0 defeat, Shorunmu admitted that Nigeria should help build the confidence of the goalkeepers as they cannot be isolated from the rest of the team.
“It’s unfortunate that Vincent Enyeama quit the national team early and Carl Ikeme who was brought into the team got injured before the encounter against South Africa. Many will recall that when he was introduced into the national team, not many Nigerians had confidence in him but over time, he has built confidence in himself and gained that of Nigerians.
“Aside from Ikeme, the only other goalkeepers that have been with the national team for almost three years running are Daniel Akpeyi, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and these two must learn to be courageous and ready for the task ahead. When a goalkeeper falters, it is obvious to everyone and when he makes a save, it’s also obvious. So, the biggest task is for the goalkeepers to be ready at all times. No gambling.”
Looking ahead to the double header in the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Cameroon, Shorunmu who played for Stationery Stores of Lagos and 3SC of Ibadan during his days in the Nigerian league called on Coach Rohr not to throw Akpeyi away because of the loss to Cameroon and instead endervour to rebuild his confidence level.
“Goalkeepers do make mistakes but it takes a while for that confidence level to grow. To drop him from the team now means that he has lost everything because it would be difficult to regain that level given the fact that the fans would have made up their minds about the goalkeeper. However, there is also a need in the long run for home grown goalkeepers to be groomed.
“But looking at the game against Cameroon, I must confess that it would be tough as it had always been. We have known them for their muscular strength and aggressiveness but we must change our approach and mentality. While they apply force, we must be tactical like the Germans did against them at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.”
On the all foreign based Super Eagles team, Shorunmu noted that one of the biggest problems affecting today’s Super Eagles is the standard of the Nigerian league.
“Kudos must go to the officials of the Nigeria Premier Football League, NPFL but the win at all cost syndrome by home teams is affecting the growth. Players cannot give their best anymore. The Nigerian league which used to be the attraction for Nigerian fans is no more because referees are frustrating teams. There are no stars to look out for,” he stated.