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Super Eagles are getting set for the crucial return leg fixture against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in a qualifier for Cameroun 2019 AFCON tournament. This game presents an opportunity for the team to reclaim it’s honour, pride and prime spot in the group by beating the boys from the Rainbow country convincingly especially after Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa had promised that each goal scored will attract $25,000 cash reward.
Photo: Peter Rufai
But while Super Eagles attempt to rush for goals in this encounter by feasting on Bafana Bafana, the team will try to avoid conceding goals as whoever is the goalkeeper for this game will want to keep a clean sheet to propel the upfield players to do damage to the South Africans by securing victory. That is the essence of this piece….Celebrating Nigerian goalkeepers but strictly and specifically the men who have had the opportunity or privilege of manning the post for the national team either past or present.
Photo: Ike Shorunmu
Looking back at what Nigeria football has achieved with special focus on the men’s senior national team (either in the days of Red Devils or Green Eagles or the present era of Super Eagles) huge credit must go to the men who have at one time or the other, be it in a friendly or competitive game stood between the sticks to save goal-bound balls from opponents thereby motivating the upfield players to victory.
These men some of whom are remembered here (please add the names that are not here that you can remember folks) have contributed immensely to the growth of the country’s football since the 50s. This formed the foundation of the three AFCON titles Nigeria has won (Nigeria ’80, Tunisia ’94 and South Africa 2013). They helped in the six World Cup appearances the country has experienced (USA ’94, France ’98, Korea/Japan 2002, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018).
Photo: Dosu Joseph
Not all were lucky to be in goal during an AFCON or World Cup game….not all were lucky to even make the squad to AFCON tourney or the World Cup. Some were in goal during qualifiers but got stopped by injuries. Some could not make it to major tournaments due to mysterious ailments or accidents or other unforeseen circumstances. Some lost their shirts during camping cum pre-tournament tune up games to better improved and hungrier colleagues and compatriots
Photo: Carl Ikeme
But in all, we must show some respect and love to them all particularly those who were able to win even a cap for the national team by being in goal either during a friendly or qualifier for a tournament or the tournament proper. Some made it to one World Cup, some two and a lucky one three. Same for AFCON tourneys.
Sam Ibiam, Carl O’Dwyer, Olu Onagoruwa, Emmanuel Ominu, Inua Rigigo, Ismaila Mabo, Eyo Essien, Joe Erico, Peter Fregene, Emmanuel Okala, Best Ogedegbe, Micheal Ekpeyong, Patrick Okala, Etta Egbe, David Ngodigha, George Ebojor, Peter Rufai, Willy Agbonavbare, Alloy Agu, Christian Obi, Willy Okpara, Patrick Udoh, Ike Shorunmu, Abiodun Baruwa, Murphy Akanji, Ndubuisi Egbo, Peterside Idah, Christian Ezuma, Dosu Joseph, Emmanuel Babayaro, Sunday Rotimi, Bassey Akpan, Vincent Enyeama, Dele Aiyenugba, Austin Ejide, Greg Etafia, Carl Ikpeme, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi, Emmanuel Daniel, Francis Uzoho and Dele Ajiboye.
Please folks the list does not end here. If you remember any goalkeeper who had the opportunity of being in goal for Red Devils, Green Eagles or Super Eagles even for 60 seconds let’s honour him by giving him a mention here.
Photo: Ikechukwu Ezinwa
Indeed, this is a salute, respect and honour to all Nigerian goalkeepers but specially for those privileged to be in goal for the country even if for a minute….Please reel out their names aside the ones mentioned in this piece. Ahoy, Eagles Goalies!!! Respect to the men between the sticks!!!