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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Ex-Nigeria goalkeeper Shorunmu absolves Okoye of blame for Tunisia loss

13:28 IST 24/01/2022
Maduka Okoye - Nigeria
The Super Eagles were knocked out of the continental tournament on Sunday after conceding a second-half goal

Former Nigeria goalkeeper Ike Shorunmu has refused to blame Maduka Okoye for the goal that led to the Super Eagles’ 1-0 loss to Tunisia at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

The 54-year-old believes Youssef Msakni’s shot from outside the penalty area deviated in front of Okoye, whose hand could not completely prevent the goal.

The effort put in by Austin Eguavoen’s side to grab an equaliser was not enough as they exited the competition at the Round of 16 stage.

Shorunmu, in his review, applauded the Carthage Eagles’ game plan which saw the performances of Moses Simon and Samuel Chukwueze limited on the flanks.

“The Tunisians knew our wingers are our weapons. They really worked to cage them and they succeeded by getting the win,” Shorunmu told GOAL.

“A lot of people said Okoye caused the goal but I don't want to believe that because if you look at the shot very well from that distance, the speed was very high and before the ball got to Okoye, it swerved.

“And that tells you the kind of game plan the Tunisians had for us. They believed they can't enter our penalty area which forced them to play their shots from distance.

“After the goal, they tried the same action again with another shot from outside the 18-yard box but thank God, Okoye reacted quickly and pushed it for a corner-kick.

“In as much as the team tried to raise their game, it was too late and they are out. I'm sure where they are now, they will be looking at it that they messed up their chances.”

Shorunmu who represented Nigeria at the 2002 Fifa World Cup, suggested that the wingers should have switched their plan during the game.

“Talking of Chukwueze and Simon, the Tunisians knew that they always hold the ball and look for space, and they clung them with two/three players,” he added.

“Sometimes when the coach gives instructions, players can change it in a way that it will adjust to the plan of the coach, they don't need to hold on to the ball. Just control, pass to your teammate and move into space.

“That's football for you. It is an experience of life, they should learn from it.”