Deportivo La Coruna of Spain B-team goalkeeper, Francis Odinaka Uzoho is moving closer to official confirmation as Nigeria’s first choice for the World Cup, following another shower accolades from the technical crew.
Though officials are trying to avoid making any categorical statement on who will be Nigeria’s number one shot-stopper for Russia 2018, Uzoho keeps turning out in Team A for training sessions, such that all fingers are pointing in his direction for a starting role against Croatia on Saturday.
This is despite a confession by Eagles gaffer, Gernot Rohr that he knows Uzoho will be under immense pressure, considering that the former Golden Eaglets third choice is still 19 years old.
Indeed, Uzoho is the second youngest goalkeeper ever to be included in Nigeria’s squad for any edition of the World Cup, behind Austin Ejide, who was 18 at Korea/Japan 2002.
Uzoho is now expected to be in between the pipes when Nigeria face Croatia on Saturday, after Rohr confirmed that the youngster is ahead of Chippa United’s Daniel Akpeyi and Enyimba’s Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
Uzoho has started every single of Nigeria’s matches 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.
”I could rely on him, but if I really can, you have to see. 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, the competition is open. At the moment Francis is a bit ahead of the game,” Rohr stated.
In reaction, Uzoho, who has just two Spanish La Liga matches and six international friendly appearances under his boots, admitted he will go to Russia for a learning process.
He disclosed: “I didn’t see myself here six months ago so I understand why people would easily praise and criticise.
“I got here through sheer hard work and self-belief, but in football the goalkeepers often face a lot of criticism and we accept that.
“Playing for your country is a big responsibility, for the friendly games it’s a learning curve and I’ve just have to keep at it. It’s been a big surprise but I take it all in by giving my best.”