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WORLD CUP REPORT: FRANCIS

28 Jun 2018
Nigeria was eliminated in the group stage, but Francis had a solid World Cup. The Fabril’s player never seemed overwhelmed despite been the third youngest goalkeeper in the history of the competition.

Francis Uzoho made history in Russia 2018 for two reasons. The first is that he is the first Fabril’s player ever to have minutes in a World Cup tournament, the second is that, been 19 years, 7 months and 19 days old, he was the third youngest goalkeeper to play in a World Cup game.

Truly not big things were expected from Nigeria in Russia 2018. Gernot Rohr assembled a young team (the youngest one in the competition) and initially, Francis wasn’t supposed to be the starting choice. That spot was for Carl Ikeme, but the Wolverhampton’s keeper had to leave the game due to cancer and the coaching staff decided to beat in Francis.

So, he started to be picked for the friendly games and even followed a special training routine in Abegondo. And the World Cup was an important step for him, because he never seemed nervous and neither surpassed by the circumstances.

In the opening game with Croatia, his team lost 2-0 and the true is that the keeper didn’t have too much work to do. He only received three shots on target, one ended in an on goal, the other was a penalty and at the end of the game he made his first save in the competition.

Then Nigeria faced Iceland and Francis shone at the start of the game making two key saves, eventually the Super Eagles improved and ended winning 2-0, which meant that he is the second youngest goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in World Cup history, older only than Li Chan-Myong (19 years and 198 days) who famously shut-out Italy in 1966.

Nigeria arrived to the last matchday with the chance to qualify if they would have been able to keep a tie with Argentina, but failed due to a late goal from Marcos Rojo (1-2). Francis conceded an early goal against Messi, later the Nigerians tied the game and the keeper made two saves, only to concede a new goal four minutes before the final whistle.

ARCHIVE NEWS JUNE/18

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