Fresh facts have emerged on why Watford goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, missed Nigeria’s squad last four games, The PUNCH reports.
Okoye who last featured for the Super Eagles against Tunisia at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon came under heavy criticism for the team’s exit from the tournament.
The 22-year-old failed to keep out Youssef Mskani’s long-range shot which sealed the Eagles’ exit from the tournament.
Following the backlash from fans, Okoye allegedly pulled out of the Eagles Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Ghana on account of illness. He also asked to be left out of the team to focus on settling in at his new club after being invited for the international friendlies against Mexico and Ecuador as well as the 2023 AFCON qualifiers against Sao Tome and Principe.
Speaking with The PUNCH, the Eagles goalkeeper coach Ike Shorunmu explained that the Watford goalkeeper still has a chance of reclaiming his place in the team once he settles in at the club.
“He (Okoye) was not in the team in their last two games before we came on board but he was called up for the friendlies in USA,” Shorunmu said.
“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.