Gernot recently named the Sparta Rotterdam shot-stopper as the Super Eagles’ current number one and a former gloveman has backed the 21-year-old to cut out the errors in his game
2002 FIFA World Cupper Ike Shorunmu has urged fans not to judge Super Eagles goalkeeper Maduka Okoye based on his performance for Nigeria in the disastrous 4-4 outing against Sierra Leone in an Afcon-qualifying match played last November in Benin City.
With injuries and coronavirus-induced inaction reducing head coach Gernot Rohr’s options in the goalkeeping department, the Franco-German tactician has been compelled to turn to Okoye.
The young goalie didn’t concede a goal when the injury suffered by Francis Uzoho allowed him to make his international debut in the Super Eagles’ decent 1-1 friendly draw against Brazil in 2019.
Okoye returned between the sticks for Nigeria in October and impressed in the friendly 2-1 defeat and 1-1 draw against Algeria and Tunisia respectively.
However, the Sparta Rotterdam number one shipped in four goals when Nigeria hosted Sierra Leone at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City.
But former Super Eagles ace Shorunmu has backed the youngster to put that disappointing display behind him and grow into a solid goalkeeper for the national team.
“We all want a good goalkeeper for the national team,” Shorunmu told the Punch.
“I know many people are criticising him (Okoye) based on the result the Eagles had against Sierra Leone, but it could have happened to any keeper. And when you concede goals like that, you learn from your mistakes and get better.”
Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr recently named Okoye as the Super Eagles’ first-choice goalkeeper ahead of the team’s Afcon-qualifying games against the Benin Republic and Lesotho in March.
And Shorunmu believes it is the right decision by the former Girondins Bordeaux manager, as he would have made proper consultations before arriving at such a conclusion.
Shorunmu added: “The coach is the main man and with the advice from his goalkeepers’ trainer, he decides who should be the team’s number one choice.
“We should also know that he wants to make the right decision because when the problem comes he will be the one to face it. Rohr has the final say and deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt.”
The Super Eagles travel to the Benin Republic to tackle the Squirrels on March 22 before playing hosts to the Crocodiles of Lesotho on the 30th at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos state.
The three-time African champions need just one point to book their place at the next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.