Super Eagles goalkeeping trainer, Alloy Agu, has charged the in-form Hapoel Jerusalem goalkeeper, Adebayo Adeleye, not take his foot off the burner in his quest to get a national team call-up.
In an exclusive chat with The Guardian, Agu, who made 28 appearances for Nigeria before ending his international career in 1995, disclosed that the 21-year-old former junior international will get his chance, adding that Super Eagles coaching staff are already keeping tabs on the young goalkeeper whose impressive performances in the Israeli league have not gone unnoticed.
Tipped as a likely heir to legendary Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, due to his top class goalkeeping techniques, Adeleye was named the best goalkeeper in the Israeli second division last season after his 19 clean sheets helped seal Hapoel Jerusalem’s promotion to the elite division.
Last season’s feat in Israel, and memories of his heroics in the Golden Eaglets, Nigeria’s U17 national team, led to calls for Adeleye’s call-up to the senior national team to create more competition for the Super Eagles No1 shirt, which since 2018 has been split between the quartet of Maduka Okoye, Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi, and Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
In recent months though, Netherlands-based Okoye, 21, appears to have earned the nod of the Super Eagles coaching crew for top games ahead of the 22-year-old Cyprus-based Uzoho, who was Nigeria’s first-choice goalkeeper at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the 35-year-old South Africa-based Akpeyi, who was No1 at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, and the 32-year-old Nigerian-based Ezenwa.
But Agu, who for the most part of his senior national team career from 1988 to 1995, had to deputize for the legendary Peter Rufai, believes Adeleye will eventually get his long-awaited opportunity if he continues to do well at his Israeli club.
“We have heard a lot about him, but in honesty we have resolved not to bring in new players considering the sensitivity of the qualifiers. We would only invite players we have been working with before,” said the 1994 AFCON gold medallist, referring to the upcoming World Cup qualifiers where the Super Eagles will come up against Liberia, Cape Verde, and Central African Republic.
“That does not imply that the door is closed to him and other good players, but I want to assure you that we have been keeping tabs on him and other players too, and they will all have their chances as long as they keep doing well with their clubs,” added the former MVV Maastricht and Standard Liege goalie.
It was a view also shared by Super Eagles Head Coach Gernot Road, who had earlier confirmed that he would not bring in new players for the first phase of the qualifiers in a bid to guide against confusion.