Nigeria’s top goalkeeping howlers (Part 2)

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 Inua “The cat” Rigogo of the 60s for Nigeria or Peter Fregene of the NEPA of Lagos 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.

And every time Nigeria put up a bad performance, a Vincent Enyeama howler is more often than not responsible.

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 two weeks ago.

Nigeria have also had other great goalkeepers aside from Inua Rigogo- Emmanuel Okala, Best Ogedengbe, Peter Fregene and Peter Rufai.

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.

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 simply just a bad goalkeeper or is it natural for keeper to make bad mistakes

Wilfred Agbonavbare: WAFU Cup V Togo

Nigerians hardly forget a man who messes up on international duty and Wilfred Agbonavbare is a witness.

He was clearly one of Nigeria’s best at a time the country had said good bye to the likes of Emmanuel Okala and best Ogedengbe and clearly needed a new number one.

First choice keeper in that New Nigeria Bank (NNB) of Benin team that included the likes of Lawrence Oriaro, Stephen Keshi, Bright Omokaro, Sunday Ebiogbe, Austin Igbinabaro, Henry Nwosu, Austin Popo, Hunphrey Edobor and Samson Ozogula but he was not lucky with the Green Eagles.

Peter Rufai, Peter Fregene and Etta Egbe had seen their moments since the departure of Emmanuel Okala and Best Ogedengbe and in this WAFU Cup game against Togo on December 16, 1983, Wilfred Agbonavbare was given a chance.

I still remember that game and how our hopes as Nigerians were as high as the heavens.

At that time, Togo was not a football playing nation so obviously Nigeria’s Green Eagles were going to wallop them.

In goal was Wilfred and with a defence line of Stephen Keshi, Kingsley Paul, Anthony Edwards and Yisa Sofoluwe, Nigerians believed the goalkeeper had all the cover he needed but at the end of the game it was Togo 5-2 Nigeria; Nigeria’s goals coming from Loius Igwillo and Ademola Adesina.

After the game, Wilfred’s surname was changed by angry Nigerian fans from Agbonavbare to Agbonibasket, the basket implying that he carried lots of goals home.

That name never left him.

Was there any goal he conceded in particular that was bad or his fault? Nigerians did not care. You do not concede five goals against Togo and not have your name changed.

Wilfred did not return to the national team until four years later in an Olympic Games qualifying match against Zimbabwe on October 17, 1987 but no matter how well he played in goal for Rayo Vallecano, his club then or the Super Eagles, he has since been called Wilfred Agbonibasket.

Peter Rufai: 1998 World Cup 2nd round against Denmark

With injuries to Joseph Dosu and Ike Shorunmu and less than impressive performances from Abiodun Baruwa, Willy Opara, Ndubuisi Egbo and Idah Peterside, retired former first choice goalkeeper, Peter Rufai was recalled from vacation to join the national team and after topping a “group of death” that included Spain, Bulgaria and Paraguay Nigeria had Denmark in the 2nd round.
Peter Rufai gifted Bryan Laudrup a goal when he failed to hold or punch clear but parried a Peter Moller free kick spilling it onto the path of Bryan Laudrup. The same Rufai failed to recover on time before Denmark got their 2nd goal of the game.

How did Helveg score Denmark’s 4th of the night again? Old man Rufai failed to hold onto a tame cross and spilled the ball to the path of Ebbe Sand who laid on for Martin Jorgensen who in turn found space to give the ball to Helveg to score.

Peter Fregene: AFCON 1982 against Zambia

Nigerian football fans had seen the days of Emmanuel Okala and Best Ogedengbe and seriously needed a new goalkeeper to continue as undisputed number one.

One mistake however the handlers of the team made was to bring back Peter Fregene to man the posts at the Africa Cup of Nations in 1982.

Peter Fregene had not been in goal for Nigeria since November 22, 1970 in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against against Congo Brazzaville which Nigeria lost 2-1 away from home.

Peter Fregene had taken over as first choice Green Eagles goalkeeper from Inua Rigogo, the cat on December 7, 1968 in a World Cup qualifying match against Cameroon that ended 1-1 in Lagos

After eleven games as first choice where he conceded twenty three goals he lost his place to Amusa Adisa and was never invited to the national team again until 1982, a full twelve years later.

At the AFCON of 1982, Fregene was in goal for Nigeria in all three first round games-a 3-0 win over Ethiopia, a 2-1 loss to Algeria and a 3-0 loss to Zambia but it was in that loss to Zambia that Fregene made himself a legend.

Covered in defence by Okey Isima, Felix Owolabi, Stephen Keshi, Tunde Bamidele and Leotis Boateng you would think Fregene had his back line well covered until the 81st minute when Zambia’s third of the game had to be recorded as a Fregene own goal.

An innocuous corner kick which everyone thought would be cuddled by a goalkeeper with Fregene’s experience became a goal when the keeper after he had “caught” the ball, helped it in.

Legend has it that he was angry with something or somebody and did that on purpose but that was the last time he was ever invited to the national team.

To be continued

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