According to several posts on Facebook, beleaguered Super Eagles dual nationality goalkeeper Maduka Okoye is currently not having a romantic moment in his Super Eagles career as speculations are rife that he is considering a temporary break-up from national team assignments.
The 23 year old Watford bench warmer suffered heavy criticism after the Super Eagles crashed out of last year's AFCON tournament after his less-than-impressive all-round performances peaked with an almighty howler against Tunisia in the second round which nailed the coffin on Nigeria's participation.
After that tournament, Okoye went ahead to tactically and controversially exclude himself for subsequent Super Eagles invitations which included the World Cup qualifiers against Ghana.
“There was a time we learnt no one could get across to him before the team secretary left him a message, but he pleaded to focus on his new club, Watford,” a source close to the team's management said.
After a seven month absence, Okoye plucked up courage to honour Super Eagles invitation in September last year only to drop another clanger against a Homebased Algerian side in a friendly match. With several options, Okoye dilly-dallied before being dispossessed of the ball by an Algerian striker who made him pay by crashing the back of the net for Algeria.
Unsurprisingly, the knives of criticisms were out again from Nigeria fans who didn't hold back on their condemnation of Okoye's performance on social media.
"It’s been very difficult for him to get over the abuses after the AFCON because he loves the fans and felt disappointed with the treatment he received.” said the anonymous source close to the team.
“Many of us have shown him love and made him feel important to the team, we also made him understand how passionate Nigerians are when it comes to football because the same fans that hail you today when you do very well will also chastise you when you don’t meet their expectations.”
“But things didn’t work out well with the back pass in the game against Algeria, leading to a goal. He was attacked by fans again." said the source.
The rumour making the rounds now has it that Okoye, who was introduced to the Super Eagles by erstwhile coach Gernot Rohr, has already confided in some confidants that he was not feeling good about the national team at this time.
Already, national team handlers are thinking that the best thing may be to let him focus more on his club career for now (where he is struggling badly for game-time) and maybe come back to the national team later. Key national team stakeholders are currently on record recommending more local contents for the Super Eagles' goalkeeping department.
If Okoye does stay away for sometime, it remains to be seen whether very many Super Eagles fans will miss him as he hasn't been altogether impressive in Nigeria colours to date.
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