Nigeria’s top goalkeeping howlers (Part 1)

Nigeria’s first choice goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama has received a lot of flak in the last couple of weeks for his recent mistakes between the sticks for the Super Eagles.

Certainly no one expects Enyeama to be better than he likes of Inua “The cat” Rigogo of the 60s for Nigeria or Emmanuel Okala of the Enugu Rangers days, but we certainly do not expect him to be as bad as he has made himself look in the last couple of games for the country.

Nigeria have also had other great goalkeepers aside from Inua Rigogo- Emmanuel Okala, Best Ogedengbe, Peter Fregene and Peter Rufai, though I really cannot say how Enyeama ranks when put on the same pedestal as these greats but his performances have certainly put him in the spot light again.

Every time in recent memory that Nigeria put up a bad performance, a Vincent Enyeama howler is more often than not responsible.

Just like the free kick goal he conceded against Angola in Kano in 2005 that ensured Nigeria did not qualify for the World Cup in Germany or the one against Malawi in Blantyre three months ago or maybe we can even think of the one against Liberia in Monrovia just very recently.

And that is why I have decided to take a look down memory lane at Nigeria’s top goalkeeping howlers to see if Vincent Enyeama is alone in this.

Ike Shorunmu: 2000 Africa Cup of Nations final against Cameroon

Nigeria had only won the Africa Cup of Nations twice in 1980 and 1994. Lots of Nigerians still believed the country should have won it in 1996 before the military ruler, Sani Abacha pulled Nigeria out of the edition in South Africa.
When the country won the rights to host the 2000 edition and qualified for the final in Lagos, most of the country thought Nigeria would make it her third win.
The fact that it was a final against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon who had beaten Nigeria in the 1984 and 1988 finals did not even bother most fans of the Eagles.
In that final game, Cameroon had gone ahead through a Samuel Eto’o Fils effort and when it was assumed that the Eagles would get their equalizer, a relatively weak Patrick Mboma shot passed through the legs of Ike Shorunmu to give the Cameroonians a 2-0 lead.

Alloy Agwu: 1992 AFCON semifinal against Ghana
It was season two of the Clemens Westahof revolution.
After getting the silver medal at the Cup of Nations in 1990 with a team made up of home based players, the likes of Stephen Keshi, Samson Siasia, Mutui Adepoju, Austin Eguavoen had been recalled to the team and once again Nigerians thought they could win the Cup for the second time after the victory in 1980.

Playing Ghana in the semifinal gave Nigerians more hope as Ghanaian football had gone down under but Alloy Agwu had other plans.
Ghana won that match 2-1 with goals from Mutui Adepoju (Nigeria) and Prince Polly and Abedi Pele scoring for the Ghanaians.
Both goals by Ghana were clearly Alloy Agwu’s fault but Abedi Pele’s header would stay a long time in the minds of Nigerians.
It seems that ball left Abedi Pele’s head in slow motion but Nigerians remained mouth agape as their goalkeeper was seen creeping on the ground until that ball went in.

Abiodun Baruwa: Pre-World Cup friendly match against Yugoslavia

In 1997, fresh from leading Shooting Stars Sports Club to the final of the CAF Champions League which they lost to Zamalek and being part of the Atlanta 96 Olympic Football gold medal winning side, Abiodun Baruwa had been called up to the Super Eagles ahead of the World Cup in France in 1998.
Nigeria’s goalkeeping position was facing a transformation with Peter Rufai calling it quits after the World Cup in 1994 but the country was in trouble again.
Joseph Dosu who was in goal as the country won the Olympic Games gold in 1996 cracked his spinal cord a year earlier in a car accident while celebrating Nigeria’s qualification for the World Cup; Ike Shorunmu injured himself in a friendly match against Germany; Emmanuel Babayaro had lost his mojo and the country now fell back to Baruwa who looked good until that friendly match against Yugoslavia.

With a back four of Mobi Oparaku, Okechukwu Uche, Taribo West and Garuba Lawal in front of him, Nigerians were optimistic Baruwa would come good.
In the 45th minute Savo Milosevic’s header was resting in the net before Baruwa dived but that was not all.
In the 60th minute, Baruwa received the ball from Taribo West and got lost in his thoughts leaving room for Predrag Mijatovic to steal from him and score. By the time the third goal went in Nigerians had made up their minds about Baruwa and that was the last time he played for the Eagles or even got an invitation to the national team

To be continued
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