Francis Uzoho

Former Nigeria first-choice goalkeeper, Peter believes there is little competition between the sticks at the Super Eagles.

As a goalkeeper, Rufai played at the Africa Cup of Nations in 1984, 1988 and 1994 while he was at the World Cup in 1994 and 1998, but now says that the competition now is not like in his time.

“As a matter of fact, the goalkeeping department needs to have real competition amongst the goalkeepers and the coach needs these goalkeepers to have playing time,” Rufai said in an interview with Sports Zone, a radio sports show on Lagos Talks.

“By the time they have playing time each one will know that any of them can come on board. That was what happened when I was in camp.”

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He suggested what Nigeria can do in a bid to improve goalkeepers, especially at the National Team level.

“My take is that Nigeria should set up a system of managing goalkeepers.

“I want to come up with a blueprint on how goalkeepers can be developed in Nigeria and the Super Eagles.

“If you have never passed through the battlefield you will never be able to compete with someone who has passed through it,” the former goalkeeper postulated.

In Rufai’s time, especially at the AFCON and World Cup in 1994, there were other goalkeepers like Wilfred Agbonibare and Alloy Agwu.

Nigeria also had the likes of Willy Opara and a young Ike Shorunmu.

The goalkeeping set up in the Super Eagles currently have Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, and Maduka Okoye.

Rufai, having been between the sticks for the Super Eagles for sixteen years would not come out to mention any of them as his number one as he believes they have different qualities.

“I will not like to mention anyone as the number one, I will just tell you their different qualities,” Rufai continued.

“Ezenwa is a pure natural goalkeeper. He is clean. He may not be the best but he is a clean natural goalkeeper.

“Uzoho is good, has a good physique, grip, height, and everything. He is very good.

“For Akpeyi, he also has good structure and is very good,” Rufai said.

But the goalkeeper adds that these things he mentioned do not alone make a good goalkeeper.

“Goalkeeping is not about all these things. They are all goalkeepers and you cant take it away from them, but to be a National Team number one, you need someone that can get the best out of these guys.

“You need someone who knows the tricks. Every profession has tricks and you need someone that will get these guys to their peak,” Rufai said.

According to Rufai, the coaching crew must be on top of their game to bring the best out of these goalkeepers.

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