The young shot-stopper is the only Nigerian goalkeeper playing in Europe’s top five leagues, but he will not be at the continental championships
Super Eagles legend Austin Okocha has voiced out his displeasure at the way the Nigeria Football Federation and top officials of the national team have treated Udinese goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, Soccernet.ng reports.
Okoye was Nigeria’s number-one goalkeeper at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon, where Nigeria won all three games in the group stage.
But the Super Eagles were defeated 1-0 by struggling Tunisia in the first knockout round, with Okoye blamed for allowing the opponents to score a long-range winner.
The youngster has not featured for Nigeria since, with head coach Jose Peseiro sticking to Frank Uzoho as his number one for the past one and a half years.
In his choice of three goalkeepers for the 2023 AFCON, Peseiro went with Cyprus-based Uzoho, South Africa-based Stanley Nwabili, and Nigeria-based Olorunleke Ojo.
Okocha is surprised that the Portuguese tactician will snub the only Nigerian goalkeeper playing for a team in Europe’s top five leagues.
The former PSG and Bolton Wanderers playmaker bemoans how Okoye was managed following his howler against Tunisia.
With Okoye being nurtured in Germany and the Netherlands, Okocha believes it is a mistake that he is not in Nigeria’s squad for the AFCON.
“He is the one keeper that has the type of training and football upbringing that we need in a goalkeeper in the national team. But he is excluded. It’s strange,” Okocha told Osasu Obayiuwana.
“The way he was handled [after the Round of 16 game against Tunisia] talks about the quality of player management in the national team.”
Uzoho is on course to be Nigeria’s number-one goalkeeper at the AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire.
The Omonia Nicosia goalie was Nigeria’s first-choice goalkeeper at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where the Super Eagles lost two and won one of their three group games.