By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Former Nigerian international Emmanuel Babayaro has weighed into the debate on the criteria for the invitation of goalkeepers to the national team and backs the Super Eagoles coaching crew for the choice of keepers invited for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Cameroon, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The Nigeria Football Federation Tuesday evening announced the 23-man squad for two games against the African champions on September 1 and 4 with the regular trio of Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC IfeanyiUbah) and Dele Alampasu (Cesarense FC) making the cut in the absence of ill Wolverhampton Wanderers’ goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme.
There was no consideration for the goalkeepers making waves in the Nigeria Professional Football league (NPFL) who have kept most clean sheets after matchday 35 and Babayaro gave his verdict on the subject.
Nasarawa United’s Suraj Ayeleso has not conceded in 14 NPFL matches while the duo of Mustapha Aliko (Niger Tornadoes) and Olorunleke Ojo (Akwa United) has not picked up the ball from the net behind them 13 times. George Michael of El Kanemi has kept 12 clean sheets while former youth international Dele Ajiboye has 11 clean sheets to his credit.
“I really do not think that inviting the regular keepers at the expense of those who have kept most clean sheets in the NPFL matter so much especially in the Nigerian context. We all know what clean sheets mean,” Babayaro told Completesportsnigeria.com Tuesday night.
“Clean sheets could actually mean that your club has so much money and can get, or buy, results home and away. We have seen videos on social media of how atrocious some referees’ calls have been.
“Basically its more of quality and ability rather than keeping clean sheets. The Nigerian goalkeeping coaches must have settled for stability and continuity. The other lads will have their chances. They just need to keep working hard. what is most important is the ability to organise your defence and make an impact.
“Gigi Buffon was with Juve and they were relegated yet he is an Italy international. Continuity is important in football. Let’s support the Eagles’ goalkeeping coaches.
Aloy Agu and Enrico Pionetti are the Eagles’ goalkeeping coaches in the national team.