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 and the long term injury to ostensible number one Francis Uzoho.
Nigerians can however breathe easy and heave a sigh of relief with the emergence of Swiss-Nigerian goalkeeper Sebastian Osigwe.
The 25-year-old shot stopper is clearly cast in the mould of former Super Eagles greats and should be the next person that could enter the fray as Nigeria prepares to take on Sierra Leone in an 2021 AFCON qualifier double header in March.
Osigwe is arguably the most consistent Nigerian goalkeeper in Europe at the moment having kept a clean sheets in a third of his 15 games this season with his club SC Kriens currently third in the Swiss Challenge League.
As the SC Kriens resume the second phase of their campaign this weekend against FC Witerthur, Osigwe says “we will continue to fight and hopefully at the end of the season we are looking at gaining promotion to the Super League”.
Even as he eyes promotion with his Swiss club, Osigwe has also kept an eye on the fortunes of the Super Eagles.
The draws for the second phase of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers held recently in Cairo with the Super Eagles drawn alongside Cape Verde, Central Africa Republic and Liberia.
And speaking on Nigeria’s chances in the qualifiers, the giant goalie who would hope to have cemented a place in the team before the qualifiers start in October 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.
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 busy year 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 by handing him a call up to take a closer look at him in training and see how he holds up in a match situation.