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Okoye injury: Should Super Eagles be worried?

7:16 PM MYT 29/11/2021
Maduka Okoye - Nigeria
How could Nigeria cope should the Sparta Rotterdam stopper miss the Africa Cup of Nations with injury?

Maduka Okoye becomes the latest Super Eagles star to join the treatment table and a potential spell on the sidelines will leave Gernot Rohr with even more to worry about.

It’s less than six weeks until the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations begins and Nigeria could be forced to participate with some of their top names.

The dust from Victor Osimhen’s injury – which will rule him out of the tournament – is yet to settle, and another injury to a key name comes as a bitter blow to Rohr and his ambitions.

On Sunday, the Super Eagles’ first-choice goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was forced to come off after suffering what looked like a shoulder injury in the 24th minute, following a collision with Ajax forward Danilo.

Sparta Rotterdam would go on to lose the game by a 1-0 scoreline to the Eredivisie league leaders, but Nigeria fans will be much more concerned by Okoye’s setback.

As at the time of writing, the extent of the is yet unknown but it remains to be seen whether the 22-year-old will recover in time and be available to take part in the upcoming continental competition.

Having started five out of Nigeria’s six World Cup qualifiers so far, Okoye is undoubtedly the nation’s number one shotstopper.

The Super Eagles do boast a number of goalkeeping options, and questions are being asked if there is indeed much to worry about, following the latest setback.

Okoye injury: Should Nigeria be worried?

Since he switched allegiance from Germany, Okoye has been fairly impressive in his time with the Super Eagles.

His debut for Nigeria came back in October 2019, in a friendly match against Brazil.

Ever since, the Watford-bound goalkeeper has not looked back, having risen above Francis Uzoho and Daniel Akpeyi in the pecking order.

However, question marks have remained over Okoye’s number one spot, with the young goalkeeper caught lacking in his positional awareness on several occasions.

The most recent incident of the above came in Nigeria’s 2-1 comeback victory against Cape Verde in September, as the 22-year-old left far too much space at his near post, allowing defender Dylan Tavares to slot an easy finish past him.

In the potential event of his absence, Nigeria boast able replacements with the quality to get the job done without fuss.

Francis Uzoho has shown his quality time and time again for both club and country, with the Omonia Nicosia goalkeeper already making trademark saves a habit.

Elsewhere, Daniel Akpeyi has silently gone about his business, with the 35-year-old playing a key role in Kaizer Chiefs’ run to last season’s Caf Champions League final.

Down to the local scene, Rohr can also call on goalkeeper John Noble, with the Enyimba star recently earning his maiden invitation to the Super Eagles back in November.

Okoye will come as a big miss should he miss the Afcon, but a host of talented goalkeepers elsewhere will be ready to try to fill that void…even if there’s no doubt it would hurt Nigeria severely.

by Kolade Daniel