12 June 2018

Nigeria: Rohr Rates Uzoho Ahead of Akpeyi, Ezenwa At World Cup

Photo: The Guardian
Gernot Rohr.

The debate on who will be Super Eagles goalkeeper when Nigeria takes on Croatia in their Group D opener in Essentuki, Russia, on Saturday, may have been put to rest, following a declaration yesterday by manager Gernot Rohr that the Deportivo de La Coruña youngster, Francis Uzoho was ahead of Chippa United's Daniel Akpeyi and Enyimba's Ikechukwu Ezenwa.

Rohr's declaration came, just as Croatia coach, Zlatko Dalić, said he would line up the best squad to tackle the Eagles in Saturday's game.

Uzoho has started every single game of the Super Eagles since the beginning of 2018, against Poland, Serbia, DR Congo, England and Czech Republic - and that is not expected to change when the World Cup begins.

Rohr told the German Press Agency yesterday that "I could rely on him, but if I really can, you have to see." He admitted that the young Uzoho would be under a lot of pressure at the World Cup.

"It's going to put a lot of pressure on him, and if he really gets the number one, the last training days will show.

"We have three good goalkeepers and the competition is open. At the moment, Francis is a bit ahead of the game," Rohr stated.

According to allnigeriasoccer.com, Uzoho is the second youngest goalkeeper to be included in Nigeria's squad for the World Cup after Austin Ejide, who was 18 at Korea/Japan 2002.

Meanwhile, Super Eagles opponent in Saturday's Group D opener, Croatia, flew into Russia yesterday morning.

Speaking to reporters before the squad departed Zagreb's Franjo Tuman Airport, manager Zlatko Dalić, refused to provide clues about his starting lineup against Nigeria, but stated the best players would be fielded.

"We have played four games and we have tried a lot. Now we have to choose the best against Nigeria in five days.

The match with Nigeria is the first and most important one," said Dalic.

"I will give the opportunity to the best, neither young nor old, the best, Senegal has shown us all, we have to fix some things. There is no reason to fear any opponent.

"I know that there are great expectations, but it will not be easy. We have to be at the best possible level, but I do not doubt our team, we have great players and their quality has to come to fruition."

Croatia's World Cup base camp is located at Ilyichevo, Zelenogorsk, 60 kilometers from St. Petersburg.

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