The Golden Eaglets are flying high at the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile and the goalkeepers have shown tremendous unity despite two of the custodians not getting playtime in the World Cup.
Amos Benjamin and Chisom Chiaha are behind first choice Akpan Udoh in the pecking order and the duo, along with goalkeepers' trainer, Emeka Amadi spoke to FIFA.com on their experience in Chile.
“We can’t have three of us between the posts,” that's coming from Amos Benjamin.
Speaking about Nigeria's game against Mexico midnight of Friday in Nigeria, Benjamin expresses belief that the Eaglets' defensive unit will shut out the Mexicans.
“We believe they have a strong attack, we have a good defence.
“I believe in my own team, the coach, the backroom staff. We believe in ourselves that we are going to make it to the final,” Benjamin reiterates.
On the part of Chisom Chiaha, being part of the team itself is satisfying and he trusts in the abilities of first choice keeper, Akpan Udoh.
“I am so happy to have this guy on the pitch,” Chiaha says, nudging Udoh with a beaming grin.
Chiaha says the other goalkeeping substitutes are ready to pounce on any chance to go between the posts.
“As we are on the bench, we are ready, because anything can happen. But we are praying for him to keep well. I want him to win the best goalkeeper award. It would be an honour for the three of us.”
“When I am at my academy, I am the first choice,” Chiaha adds. “I relax because any time I have a match I know I will play. Since I have come to the national team, I am among the best. It will not be easy for me to make it again – to be the first choice, but I work hard.”
Goalkeepers' trainer and former Nigeria international Emeka Amadi who was in Nigeria's team to the 1989 FIFA U20 World Cup in Saudi Arabia where the team were losing finalists, commends the three keepers and stresses that irrespective of who starts or sits on the bench, the team is united.
“Any of them can be in goal and I am proud of that, and I’m proud of them,” Amadi says. “I don’t like to train average goalkeepers, I want to train world class goalkeepers.”
“The No1 goalkeeper gets injured, the second goalkeeper that comes in gets a red card so what happens?” Amadi asks. “Everybody must be ready if we want to achieve our objective,” he maintains.
Amadi came on at half-time against the Soviet Union at Saudi '89, saw his side go 4-0 down before coming back to 4-4 and winning the penalty shoot-out, thanks to a stop by Amadi, to progress to the semi-finals.
The boy who has been receiving all the support he needs as first choice keeper, Udoh is not left out of the interview either and he gushed about his excitement with his tournament form.
“I am happy with the tournament so far,” Remo Academy youngster, Udoh, states. “Anytime I keep a clean sheet, even in training when I don’t concede a goal, I’m happy for myself."
Benjamin and Chisom Chiaha have yet to play a single minute in Chile, but they are vital to the team which FIFA.com calls a 'the team within a team', working with Udoh and their goalkeeping coach Emeka Amadi in training.
All three keepers and their trainer have German influence in their playing and coaching careers.
While Emeka Amadi considers Oliver Khan a great influence, the three keepers see Bayern Munich star Manuel Neur as their hero.