Maduka Okoye should be in goal when Nigeria take on Sierra Leone in Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone, according to seasoned football administrator Adam Mouktar Mohammed.
The Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper showed a glimpse of his class during the Super Eagles’ recent international outings against Algeria and Tunisia. In those games, he won the hearts of several fans owing to his awe-inspiring saves as well as his poise that rubbed off positively on the defensive line.
With the return of the established Daniel Akpeyi to the Nigerian team, Gernot Rohr is expected to have sleepless nights while deciding on who stands between the goalposts.
Nevertheless, the FCT FA boss is sticking out his neck for the 21-year-old who ‘is playing at a high level’.
“Okoye is an exciting talent and he is coming from a country known to produce great goalkeeping talents – which is Germany,” Mohammed told Goal.
“So, I think it’s time that you should not take too much risk, but we’ve seen him and he looks like a safe pair of hands, so why not [put him in goal]?
“These are the kind of matches that will give him confidence and would also reassure Nigerians that he is one for the future and that he can play at that high level.
“I think we should give Okoye a chance and that would cement his place and then the competition can pick up from there.”
The administrator downplays talk that Okoye is inexperienced and as such could cost the three-time African kings if placed in goal against the Leone Stars who are in dire need of a win in Benin City while stating that Nigeria will be home and dry come Friday.
“I don’t think so because he is playing at a high level and he has had the schooling and he has passed through that rudiments at a high level. I think he is going to be able to stand on his own,” he continued.
“Gernot Rohr has obviously scouted him for a long time, so for him to bring him in, he must have done his due diligence to know that he can withstand the pressure because goalkeeping is a very important position where the team builds up and gets the confidence. That is a critical position for the country.
“There are no minnows now in African football, Nigeria is always a tricky match. You are going there you don’t know what you are going to see and what you are going to get.
“They are going to be fighting for name and pride, so, we have to go in there, do the business early and pick the points. Its not going to be easy but I think we should be able to get something out of this.”