Nigeria goalkeeper Maduka Okoye posted a man-of-the-match perform for Udinese against Juventus this week in their 1:0 win.
I watched the highlights of the match and was simply in awe of Okoye’s performances.
This is a goalkeeper oozing in confidence.
The saves he made particularly in the first half were from a variety of shots hurled at him. He employed compelling catching, punching and parrying techniques.
It’s going to be interesting what happens in World Cup qualifiers. Will we overlook or bench an Italia Serie A goalkeeper for a flash in the pan South African goalkeeper?
I maintain my praise, adulation and respect of how Nwabili stepped in and stepped up to temporarily resolve the overblown and largely imaginary goalkeeping problems we had in the Super Eagles prior to the Afcon tournament.
However, he proved to be susceptible to weak defensive infrastructure and questionable decision making that reportedly plagued his predecessors including the great Enyeama himself.
Nwabili’s indecisiveness and shabby grappling was directly implicated in Ivory Coast’s equaliser as he darted left and right confused before allowing the ball literally slip through his fingers.
That situation doesn’t tarnish his overall performance – no, he did very well overall.
But it just proves that Nwabili is not altogether insulated from mishaps neither does his skills hold up to being considered for the best goalkeeper of the tournament despite many clean sheets that were produced from a park-the-bus strategy rather than goalkeeper proficiency.
My prayers are now that fans haven’t scared off Okoye or discouraged Uzoho. We discourage goalkeepers too much in Nigeria. Both of whom must return to take their rightful places. We should also track the progress of Chijioke Anigboso in Europe. He is another potential credible option.
Looking at the goals Nwabili conceded against Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast in the final, it is clear that when the defence cracks, he will leak goals. This is not a criticism, just an observation.
An observation of the need of our coaches to provide ample protection for the Super Eagles goalkeepers. We all saw how Nwabili was made to look better than he actually was in the eyes of emotion-driven fans when the structure of the formation offered ample protection.