Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi may have softened his criticism of goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama over the 2-2 draw between Nigeria and Liberia last Saturday in Monrovia.
Impeccable dressing room source at the Samuel Doe Stadium confirmed that Keshi lashed out at the Israel-based goalkeeper for his poor reaction which led to Liberia’s goals and striker Ikechukwu Uche.
An angry Keshi thereafter ruled that late comers would not be admitted to the camp in subsequent matches. The goalkeeper was one of the late arrivals to the Abuja camp of the Eagles for the September 8 clash.
But in a statement from Keshi on Tuesday, he denied that he blamed Enyeama for the result.
“There was nothing like that and if there is anybody to be blamed, it’s the team, not an individual,” Keshi said.
He insisted that the issue regarding national team performance cannot be blamed on a single individual like Enyeama, saying it was a collective effort.
“I never at any moment said that Enyeama, who remains our first choice keeper caused us the draw in Liberia and in fact I think that he is one of the best in the world. At times like these passion rules over reason, but we must not bring individual players into our poor performance, it’s a collective failure to win,” he added.
The review of the Eagles performance in Liberia by the team’s goalkeeper trainer Ike Shorunmu also gave a clear hint that Enyeama’s performance was a major factor in that game. While making a plea for Enyeama, Shorunmu said, “It is not fair if we continue to say Enyeama was the cause of the goal. It was a team game so everybody will take part of the blame.
“Any player can have good days and bad days, it was Enyeama’s bad day but that doesn’t make him a bad goalkeeper.”
The match report on Enyeama was criticised by many analysts as they fear it would harm the goalkeeper’s professional career. Many suggested that such harsh words should have been made between Keshi and his goalkeeper to avoid a leak to the public.
The poor review of Enyeama’s performance in Monrovia follows the first made of him after the match in Blantyre between Malawi and Nigeria which ended in 1-1 draw. Those who were in Blantyre also blamed the goalkeeper for the hosts’ equaliser.