Super Eagles of Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel has thrown his weight behind teenage goalkeeper Francis Uzoho ahead of their Russia 2018 opener against Croatia.
Uzoho made his international debut against Argentina in November 2017 and has displaced the likes of Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi from the starting lineup.
Uzoho made only two appearances for Deportivo La Coruna in the LaLiga, but featured majorly with the B side in the third tier of Spanish club football, with 26 games to his name.
Although questions have been raised on the shot-stopper’s experience, Mikel has lauded the 19-year-old’s calmness, whilst promising that the team will support him more to ensure he doesn’t suffer under pressure during games.
“He’s a very young goalkeeper. I think the good thing about him is that he’s always very calm. It’s good for us, it’s good for him. He knows how to deal with pressure, he has a lot of responsibility, but we try to help him as much as we can,” Mikel told the media.
“I try to talk to him during the game, but it’s important for us to let him do his job, he knows exactly what he’s doing. I try to talk to him to keep him calm. We hope he will have a great tournament.”
Although the Super Eagles suffered three defeats in a row in friendlies before the competition, Mikel remains positive of a good performance for the Nigeian side in the tournament.
“Preparation with the friendlies didn’t go as planned. We wanted to try new things, new players, new formations,” he continued.
“We know what we did during the friendlies, but now is the time for the tournament. We have to focus, we have to switch back on the way we played coming to the World cup.
“If we can play the way we know, control the game, be aggressive, we have a great chance. The young players want to show the world what they can do.”