If Maduka Okoye was that good, there wouldn’t be this much apprehension from a large body of fans about the vulnerability of Nigeria’s goalkeeping department as is often seen in internet platforms and on social media.
But the bigger question is: why are Nigerian goalkeepers performing so badly in club football outside our shores?
The much talked about Adebayo Adeleye has now also been officially inducted into the benchwarmers Hall of Fame in Israel. Following a string of 5 losses in 6 games that saw Adeleye concede 10 goals, his starting position became untenable.
Having also had game-time hard to come by, Daniel Akpeyi is now rumoured to be nearing the pinnacle of his demise in South Africa as the club are looking to wave goodbye to several over-30s soon.
Osigwe, Uzoho and Matthew Yakubu are all fully paid up patrons of the Bench-warmers association of their various clubs leading us with just one option: unripe Maduka Okoye.
And Maduka Okoye will ripen to become a decent goalkeeper. But for now, he remains an achilles heel of Nigeria’s defence apparatus.
For example, the goal he conceded against Tunisia – that contributed to Nigeria’s Afcon ouster – was very save-able.
Okoye saw Youssef Msakni brush Ndidi aside before setting himself up to shoot,hence he should have anticipated the shot. With the ball travelling at him, Okoye exhibited indecision. By the time he decided what to do, the outcome was fait accompli as his feeble punch only guided the ball on its way to breaking Nigerian hearts.
Any opposition coach and video analysts watching highlights of Super Eagles matches will not need a sorcerer to discover Nigeria’s goalkeeping vulnerability.
Take it or leave it, this version of Okoye is currently a liability to the Super Eagles.
He will surely get better and in a few years time, we will be praising Okoye to high heavens due to how truly impressive he would have become.
But for now, as a short term solution, I think the Super Eagles handlers should look to the NPFL for a temporary fix.
The likes of Stanley Nwabili (Lobi Stars) or Kayode Bankole (Remo Stars), Mistapha Lawal (Sunshine Stars) and John Noble (Eyimba) are possible outlets.
But in truth, the paucity of viable goalkeeping options outside Nigeria may have left the Super Eagles coaching crew of likely putting all their eggs in Okoye’s basket against Ghana.
Let’s hope he doesn’t leak those eggs!
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