Uyo, Sept. 2, 2017 (TNE) The performance of goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa on Friday in Uyo was a reassurance that Nigeria’s qualification for Russia 2018 was not threatened by recent goalkeeping woes.
The goalkeeper who plays for Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side FC IfeanyiUbah of Nnewi made several heroic saves in the 4-0 defeat of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
Ezenwa, who two weeks ago captained Nigeria’s home-based Super Eagles to qualification for 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) after eliminating Benin Republic, simply made the African champions look inferior.
He had stepped in for injured South Africa-based Daniel Akpeyi.
Akpeyi was in goal during the 0-2 loss to South Africa in June at the same venue, and fears had mounted before this game over his ability to stop the Cameroonians.
However, Ezenwa’s performance in Uyo justified the confidence reposed in him, when he stopped no fewer than five goal-bound shots from the Indomitable Lions.
But his performance was not the only high point of the game, with the duo of Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong holding out well in the central defence.
The defensive midfield duo of Ogenyi Onazi and Wilfried Ndidi, as well as the attacking midfield trio of Mikel Obi, Moses Simon and Victor Moses, were just too much for Cameroon.
They never gave the Indomitable Lions any breathing space, and this was just enough for Odion Ighalo and substitute Kelechi Iheanacho to do the damage and distract their opponents.
At the post-match briefing, Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr was more than happy with the match result.
“We put in our best, and that was because we had a good preparation for victory in this match we are dedicating to our sick goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme,’’ he said.
Rohr did not forget to underline the fact that victory was very essential to his team.
“It is important that we won. The stage is now clear for us to prepare for the next game on Monday against Cameroon,” he said.
Eagles captain Mikel Obi, in looking ahead, said the Eagles now have a good chance to win Monday’s match.
“This is possible because the team has talent, and intelligent players. Today, we played as a team and things turned out well. Our next match will even be better,’’ he said. (TNE)