Ike Shorunmu, the goalkeeper coach for the Super Eagles, has explained why Maduka Okoye missed Nigeria’s previous four games.
The German-born goalkeeper who last played for the Super Eagles against Tunisia at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon was heavily criticized for the team’s elimination.
Okoye is said to have withdrawn from the Eagles’ World Cup qualifier against Ghana due to sickness after receiving backlash from irate supporters.
After being invited to the international friendlies against Mexico and Ecuador as well as the 2023 AFCON qualifiers against Sao Tome and Principe, it has been reported that he requested to be kept out of the squad in order to concentrate on settling in at his new club.
Ike Shorunmu, goalie coach with the Eagles, told The PUNCH, “He (Okoye) was not in the squad for their previous two games before we came on board, but he was called up for the friendly in the United States.”
“But the secretary of the team sent me a message he received through a friend that he (Okoye) wanted to be excused for the games as he wanted to focus on settling in at his new club which I rightly understand.
“He is at a new club and he needs to prove himself well with the new coach at the club unlike when he was with his former team where he knew the terrain better.
“I have been in such situations before when I changed club so I understand what he is going through but we hope to have him back in the team in September for the next AFCON qualifiers.
The 22-year-old kept eight clean sheets in 31 games conceding 40 goals. He is tipped to become the Hornet’s first choice in the English Championship.