Fortuna Düsseldorf of Germany goalkeeper, James Maduka Okoye could be in for his first ever invitation to the Super Eagles, as Nigeria’s national team’s technical crew is in search of better hands to man the country’s shot-stopper’s department.
Following shaky form by Eagles’ first choice, Daniel Akpeyi at the Africa Cup of Nations, during which Ikechukwu Ezenwa conceded two in a last group defeat by Madagascar and Francis Odinaka Uzoho looked tentative in the third place 1-0 win over Tunisia, the Nigerian trio got low marks from observers, thereby creating room for Okoye back into the picture.
This much has been confirmed by Eagles’ coach, Gernot Rohr, who hinted that he is thinking seriously about inviting Okoye for the first match of the AFCON 2021 qualifiers, which will be at home against neighbouring Benin Republic in November.
Although critics would allege that the Franco-German gaffer is bound to allow sentiments spur his decision, as Okoye is a Nigerian-born German former youth international, independent pundits would make a case for the youngster to step in and solve the Eagles goalkeeper crisis, due to his performances with Düsseldorf II in Deutschland’s lower division.
On the other hand, the Eagles are struggling with a reliable number one keeper to replace former Wolverhampton Wanderers of England shot-stopper, Carl Onuoha Ikeme, who retired in June 2017 due to leukaemia.
Consequently, Rohr is seriously thinking about inviting Okoye, who has repeatedly spoken of his desire to get an opportunity to prove himself in the Nigerian national team, although he is still just 19 years old.
It would also be a major step up and breakthrough for Okoye, who had previously been invited to Nigeria’s under-23 team, Olympic Eagles, for an African Championship qualifier against Libya earlier this year, but he could not honour the call due to club commitments.
Rohr told Sports Extra: “My aim is to improve all the departments in the team. The most important are the goalkeeper and then the goal scorers.
“They are already two challenges now, we’ve been working on it for a long time now.
“We knew the problem in the goalkeeping department before the AFCON, and that it could be a big problem at the AFCON.
“So, for the goalkeeper position, we have Maduka Okoye, who plays for Dusseldorf; he will be a good one, I think.”