Maduka Okoye Vs Francis Uzoho: who should be Nigeria's Number 1?
Super Eagles goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye told the BBC that he still has a lot to learn in colours of the senior national team despite been selected as number one in previous games
The 22 year old Glovesman is on a journey and there is nothing to suggest that he will not arrive at his destination (all other things been equal). His profile is rising in club football in spite of some leaky performances which his whole team have to take responsibility. It is true: Okoye is not yet Nigeria’s undisputed number one glove minder. A robust performance in the Afcon in January supported by poweful outings leading up to the tournament itself should edge him closer to the Number 1 claim. But the road ahead is rocky and is not helped by Okoye adding distraction-pebbles on his own path by reporting late to camp. As a result, he has handed Uzoho the opportunity to reclaim what he feels is rightly his.
Make no mistake about it: Francis Uzoho has no intentions of going to consecutive Afcons as second fiddle to goalkeepers he is slightly better than on a good day. Whether he plays in Cyprus or not, if Uzoho regains his aura of impregnabilty as displayed against Ukraine and Brazil in 2019 and starts to taste the sweet wine of regular club football games, then Okoye will have a mountain to climb to regain his slot. Uzoho, it has to be remembered, is also one of Gernot Rohr’s major pet projects. The German exposed Uzoho to football at the highest level at a young age so that he can come good right about now. So, if Uzoho picks form, Rohr takes the credit. Uzoho or Okoye manning the post is a win-win for Rohr so Okoye should beware and not take his place for granted. Okoye is also not yet an undisputed fan favourite : he divides opinion. Some believe that despite his young age, he doesn’t exhibit the sort of goalkeeper skills that will suggest he is good enough to man the post. If he loses his place at this time, some fans will even welcome this. For someone yet to win majority of fans over with Uzoho (a Rohr project) breathing heavily down his neck, reporting to camp late might prove to be a costly mistake for his own ambitions!