NIGERIA’S goalkeeping appears to have come to an end after nine bleak months after first choice Francis Uzoho resumed training following a nasty knee injury and second choice Maduka Okoye is set for a move to Dutch side Sparta Rotterdam.
In October last year, Uzoho, 21, ruptured his cruciate ligaments while playing for Nigeria against Brazil and was stretchered off in the 65th minute after he landed awkwardly after coming for a corner. Omonia Nicosia, Uzoho’s club where he is spending the 2019/20 season on loan from Deportivo de La Coruña, confirmed that he suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
This week, however, Uzoho has returned to training and would have resumed action with his club but Cyprus had decided to terminate its league following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. This means that Omonia Nicosia have been crowned champions, so should Uzoho stay there, he will feature in the Uefa Champions League matches, or alternatively, Deportivo La Coruna could recall him.
Adding to the good news is that number two choice Maduka Okoye, is poised to join Sparta Rotterdam on a free this summer at the end of the season. Okoye who has played one game for Nigeria is on his way out of German club Fortuna Dusseldorf where he has spent the last three years, during which he was elevated to the first team earlier this year.
Okoye, 20, made 14 appearances for the Fortuna reserve team in the Regionalliga last season bit during the current campaign was made the club’s number two goalkeeper. Last month, he and his agent were spotted at the Sparta Stadion for a meeting with club president Henk Van Stee to seal the transfer.
Born in Germany to a Nigerian father and a German mother, Okoye chose to represent Nigeria and has been capped once by the Super Eagles. Coming on for Uzoho when he was stretchered off against Brazil, the young goalkeeper started his youth career at Bayer Leverkusen before he moved to Fortuna Düsseldorf.
In February this year, another Nigerian goalkeeper Dele Alampasu ended his time in the wilderness by signing a three year contract with Latvian first division side FK Ventspils that will keep him at the club until January 2022. Alampasu, 23, was Nigeria’s goalkeeper at the U17 Fifa World Cup in 2013 where he won the golden glove, having been adjusted the best goal tender at the tournament.
As a further icing on the cake, Nigeria’s U-17 goalkeeper Daniel Jinadu signed his first professional contract with English Premier league side West Ham alongside last week. Jinadu, 17, manned goal for Nigeria during the 2019 U17 World Cup, playing in all three group games for the Golden Eaglets.
A few months ago, Nigeria faced a real goalkeeping crisis as Uzoho was injured, Alampasu was clubless and Okoye was not getting first team action. Now, with all three of them getting their careers back on track and the young Jinadu coming through, Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr appears spoilt for choice.