Former Super Eagles goalkeeper and goalkeeper trainer Ike Shorunmu has highlighted the qualities a goalkeeper should possess to make a World Cup squad. In this interview with BAMIDELE BOLUWAJI, the ex-international says Nigeria will miss goalkeeper Carl Ikeme at the World Cup…
What qualities do you think a goalkeeper should have to be able to feature at a major tournament like the World Cup?
For me, a goalkeeper should have a good height, be calculative and have sharp eyes to monitor the movement of every player on the field. As the last man in the team, you need a goalkeeper who will be able to read the match and know virtually every movement of his opponents. A goalkeeper also needs to be focused and have good communication with other players on the field. His ability to communicate with other players will also help him to organize his team. There are times some defenders will be where they are not expected to be and he may not know but if you have a good goalkeeper, he can easily call his attention or call another player to cover up for him. And finally, a goalkeeper must believe in himself and not feel jittery whatever the caliber of opponent he is playing against.
Presently, we have Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi and Dele Ajiboye in the Eagles pre-World Cup camp in Uyo.Who among these four goalkeepers do you think actually has the qualities you have mentioned above?
When you look at the four goalkeepers, you will be able to know those that have these qualities and I am sure the coaches have been monitoring the goalkeepers and know the ones who meet their needs. They are all good goalkeepers who have over the years proven their qualities in their various clubs and at several tournaments as well but it is left for the coaches to pick their choice.
If you were to be the goalkeeper trainer for the Super Eagles, who among the four goalkeepers in camp presently would you pick as your first choice?
It is difficult because I am not in the team and I have not trained with any of them in recent times to know the level of their fitness and readiness because these are factors any coach needs to pick his players. I am sure that the goalkeeper trainers in the team know what they want and how to get it from the four goalkeepers but I can tell you that they are all good players.
Does experience really matter in choosing a goalkeeper for a major tournament like the World Cup?
It depends on the calibre and qualities of the goalkeepers you have in the country. If you have many of them who are doing well and then you can begin to talk about the requirements for you to be able to pick your best. If you have extremely good goalkeepers playing professional football abroad, who play regularly, you can also look at their experiences and exposure to decide on who you want to pick as your first choice. For a tournament like the World Cup, you honestly need your best keeper who has all the qualities to be in the post because at that level experience will go a long way in helping any goalkeeper to overcome fear from the opponents.
Carl Ikeme will be missing the World Cup in Russia, do you think Nigeria will miss him at the World Cup?
Oh…definitely. He was the first choice goalkeeper before the news about his health came out and I am sure the coach will not be happy about that. Our prayer always is for God to heal him. He contributed immensely to the World Cup ticket and we really appreciate him for that. Nigeria will definitely miss him but that does not mean that those we have there will not do their best, we just have to support them as well.