Many Nigerians believe that there is a genuine lack of quality in the goalkeeping department of the Super Eagles and hunger for the day where the Nigeria’s goalposts would be manned by goalies that can rival some of the greats of eras gone past.
Older followers of the national team still recall a period when the Super Eagles were spoiled for choice between the sticks with two of the greatest goalkeepers to have come out of the country Emmanuel Okala and Best Ogedengbe vying for the single slot in goal in the seventies and eighties.
They think back to a period when the national team boasted a seemingly endless list of fantastic shot stoppers succeeding the other in seamless tranquillity from the great Peter Rufai to the dependable Ike Shorunmi and modern titan Vincent Enyeama.
The certainty that used to be taken for granted in the past has now been replaced with a national nervousness that hasn’t been helped by the forced retirement of the steady Carl Ikeme, the long term injury to ostensible number one Francis Uzoho, the rapid ageing of Daniel Akpeyi and the callow inexperience of Maduka Okoye.
Nigerians can however breathe easy and heave a sigh of relief with the emergence of Swiss-Nigerian goalkeeper Sebastian Osigwe.
The 26-year-old shot stopper is clearly cast in the mould of former Super Eagles greats and should be the next person that enter the fray after earning his maiden call up as Nigeria prepares to take on Sierra Leone in a 2021 AFCON qualifier double header next month.
Osigwe is arguably the most consistent Nigerian goalkeeper in Europe at the moment having kept clean sheets in a third of his 20 games last season with his club SC Kriens in the Swiss Challenge League.
He has continued in the same mould this season after his summer move to top tier FC Lugano where he is undisputed number one and has played in four of his side’s five games in the topflight Swiss Super League.
Even as he eyes Champions League qualification with his new Swiss club, Osigwe has also kept an eye on the fortunes of the Super Eagles.
Speaking on Nigeria’s chances in the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, the giant goalie who would hope to have cemented a place in the team before the qualifiers start opined that the three-time African champions have what it takes to go all the way.
“Nigeria is a big football nation and we are known globally for our football exploits. We are in a good group and I believe with the top quality talents we have, we will surely be in Qatar come 2022,” Osigwe said.
He has now been handed a golden opportunity to cement a place as the Eagles’ first choice as they navigate their way to both the Mundial in Qatar and next year’s AFCON in Cameroon.
Osigwe is not new to Nigerian national team settings having been with John Obuh’s U20 team in France as they prepared for the U20 FIFA World Cup 2013.
And from that moment, the zeal to represent the senior national side has burned in the patriotic Swiss-born Nigerian who says he’ll give everything for the shirt if called up.
“It has always been a dream of mine to play for the Super Eagles of Nigeria and anytime I get called up, I will be giving my all to make sure I represent the nation in a great way. As we know there are so many talented Nigerian goalkeepers and if I get called up I will take it seriously because there are so many others looking for the same opportunity.”
It will be a next few months for the Super Eagles with AFCON and World Cup qualifiers coming thick and fast and for Gernot Rohr, having the best hands in goal will be vital.
The Franco-German could do worse than give Osigwe a chance to prove his mettle for the Super Eagles when they play Sierra Leone next month and in so doing, arrive at a definite solution to Nigeria’s uncertain goalkeeping situation.