Uzoenyi is good replacement for Echiejile –Ekpo

Former Nigeria midfielder, Friday Ekpo, has backed Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, for picking Enugu Rangers winger, Ejike Uzoenyi, in place of the injured Monaco left-back, Elderson Echiejile, for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The 26-year-old Echiejile limped out of Nigeria’s friendly match against Greece in Philadelphia on Wednesday just before half-time. The match ended in a goalless draw.

A scan result showed afterwards that the player had a muscle tear, which would rule him out for up to three weeks and out of the trip to Brazil, thus forcing Keshi to recall Uzoenyi, who was earlier dropped from his 30-man provisional squad for the World Cup.

However, Keshi has come under heavy criticism back home for bringing in a winger for a defender but Ekpo, who played in the national team alongside the Eagles coach, said Keshi had no choice but to bring in Uzoenyi, who was the best player at the 2014 African Nations Championship in South Africa, helping Nigeria win bronze.

“If Keshi had another defender, he would have changed a defender for a defender. But now he has no option but to bring in Uzoenyi to fill the gap. He is a natural left-footer and he can add depth to the team,” Ekpo told our correspondent on the telephone on Monday.

The ex-Abiola Babes player however expressed concerns over the Eagles’ defence, which he described as “shaky”.

The Senegal ’92 Africa Cup Nations bronze medallist said, “I am not too confident in our defenders. The defence is unstable; it’s shaky and the time is short for them to work on it.

“Maybe a player like (Kenneth) Omeruo will be able to adjust but I am not too comfortable with the left-back position and the entire defence because each time attackers go past our defenders, it’s like hot knife through butter.” Punch

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