Article about the battle for the goalkeeping position in the Nigerian team between Enyeama, Ejide and Aiyenugba. Personally I cannot name my favourite. I know Enyeama, and he's not that bad (for a Nigerian GK
), but I don't know much about the other two. Maybe someone else does?
War Over Eagles No 1 shirt
Super Eagles goalkeeper of the moment, Dele Aiyenugba, says he has taken the team’s goalkeeper’s jersey for keeps
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
It is war in Malaga, Spain. It is a fierce battle between in-form Dele Aiyenugba, Austin Ejide and come-back Vincent Enyeama to wrest the Super Eagles No. 1 jersey. But Aiyenugba says the other contenders have to kill him first for him to surrender the shirt.
Photo: Sun News Publishing
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Aiyenugba spoke with Daily Sunsport a few hours before he left Israel for Malaga and, from his voice, it was obvious that the battle for the goalie’s jersey would be fierce.
"My coming in as No. 1 goalkeeper in those friendly matches against Australia and Switzerland was never by accident," Aiyenugba said. "It was designed by God who has revealed to me that my time has finally come. I’m ready to fight for the shirt, but I’m convinced that it is my time to shine in Ghana.
"I know it would be a strong contest but I’m poised to improve on my previous performance. I acknowledge the fact that Enyeama and Ejide have been there in the past but the shirt is not anybody’s inheritance. My time has come.
"It is going to be total war. I am not mincing words.
The era of someone monopolising the No.1 shirt at major competitions is over. I am ready to defend my words. We have good goalkeepers in this country that can challenge the monopoly of the Eagles’ goalkeeper’s jersey, like what is obtained everywhere in the world. I am going to lead this revolution with my abilities at stopping the ball from crossing the goal-line when we converge in Malaga.
"I am happy with the attitude of the present technical crew, as it concerns players positions and, if this attitude continues, I want to bet you that the best legs will represent Nigeria in Ghana.
"As you are aware, Vincent Enyeama had held sway at the goalkeeping position in the Super Eagles since the exit of Ike Shorunmu after the 2002 World Cup. But that equation has changed since the emergence of Berti Vogts as the manager of the team some months back.
This situation, which threw up Austin Ejide, has given me the confidence to fight on, and claim what rightly belongs to me.
The three of us now know that nobody can permanently lay claim to the Super Eagles’ goalkeeper’s shirt, and I feel it would give room for a healthy competition, which would eventually produce the best for the team.
"I am, however, confident that I’ll come out tops in this titanic battle for the soul of the Eagles and, by the grace of God, Nigerians will not be disappointed in me. Let me also say here that other positions in the team will witness the same competition when hostilities begin in Malaga and I can assure you that there will be surprises when the final list is made public. Strange faces will make the team from defence, midfield and attack.
"This is not to say that the deserving ones among the regular players will not be included in the team, all I am saying is that the best will eventually be selected at the end of the camping exercise in Malaga," Dele revealed.
The safe-hands also queried the statistic behind those who are bent on scuttling the camping arrangements in Malaga, using the cold weather as an excuse, and asked them to leave the decision to the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) and the technical crew.
"The fuss about the cold in Malaga is unfounded, as far as I am concerned. For goodness sake, all invited players are professionals who can adapt to changes in any weather conditions. So, the choice of Spain to me is not a misplaced priority.
Don’t forget that all the players started their playing careers back home in Nigeria with the attendant hot weather, but we all went to Europe and adapted almost immediately. In the same way, I can assure you that we will train in Spain and go to Ghana and do our nation proud."
On the issue of winning the trophy for the third time for Nigeria. Aiyenugba says the players have resolved to win in Ghana, even if it means laying down their lives as sacrifice to make the dream a reality.
"In the past three editions we had returned home with bronze medals, lamenting one excuse or the other but, in this edition, we are going to sing a new song of victory. It is either the trophy or nothing. The threats associated with the pairing of Mali and Cote d’Ivoire in our group is just a figment of some people’s imagination.
"No doubt, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali have good individual players but, as you are aware, the game of football is a collective game. I want Nigerians to do away with the fear of these countries and concentrate on prayers for the success of Nigeria in Ghana.
"We have the squad that can beat any team on the continent and I am happy that we now have enough time to play together as a team before the tournament kicks off.
"I want to thank all Nigerians for the confidence reposed in me all these years, and I promise not to disappoint them," Aiyenugba said.