The goalkeeping position in the Super Eagles squad has been a subject of debate in the last few years, but the German tactician has now put an end to it
Nigeria’s national team coach, Gernot Rohr has revealed that Maduka Okoye is now the team’s number one choice goalkeeper ahead of Francis Uzoho and Daniel Akpeyi.
The Super Eagles haven’t had a permanent man between the sticks in recent years. Francis Uzoho was the team’s goalkeeper at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
But he lost his place to Daniel Akpeyi at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. Uzoho returned to the lineup in the friendlies played shortly after the nations cup and appeared to have won the battle.
However, he picked up a knee injury in the friendly game against Brazil, which ruled him out of action for over six months.
Okoye came on for Uzoho in that game, but he was not in goal for the Afcon qualifiers against the Benin Republic and Lesotho as Rohr went with Akpeyi.
But Okoye finally got his chance last year with the former Fortuna Dusseldorf shot-stopper playing in all of Nigeria’s four games in 2020.
Although he conceded four times against Sierra Leone, it hasn’t changed Rohr’s mind, who confirmed the Sparta Rotterdam star is now the Super Eagles first-choice goalkeeper for the foreseeable future.
You cannot drop a player because you say he plays one bad game,” Rohr told ESPN.
“It is bad for his confidence.”
“No. 1 is Maduka.” These decisions, I take them with [goalkeeper coach Alloy Agu] because he is a specialist for goalkeeper training.
“Myself and Alloy, we agreed that it’s actually Maduka. We have the experienced [Daniel Akpeyi] doing good matches with this club in South Africa.
“We have the young [Francis Uzoho] coming back after injury, but he has to play also now not only on the bench.
Okoye has also established himself as Sparta Rotterdam’s number one after sitting on the bench for the first few games of the season.
The 21-year-old has 15 appearances in the Dutch top-flight and has kept five clean sheets.