In a noteworthy development for Nigerian football, Udinese goalkeeper Maduka Okoye is set to make a comeback to the Super Eagles for a friendly match against Saudi Arabia, taking place in Portugal today.
This move comes more than a year after Okoye’s “schoolboy error” had a profound impact on the Super Eagles’ journey in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon.
Back in 2021, Okoye held the position of the Super Eagles’ number-one goalkeeper during the AFCON tournament.
However, his tenure was cut short when Nigeria was eliminated in the round of 16, suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Tunisia.
This pivotal moment had far-reaching consequences, as it resulted in Okoye falling out of favor within the national team setup.
Since that dramatic exit from the AFCON, Okoye’s journey with the Super Eagles was marked by limited involvement.
He was summoned back to national team duty only once, during a friendly encounter in November 2022 when the Super Eagles faced Portugal and endured a 4-0 defeat.
Now, nearly a year later, the former Sparta Rotterdam shot-stopper finds himself with another opportunity to impress Super Eagles head coach, Jose Peseiro, as the national team prepares for the 2023 AFCON scheduled for January.
Okoye’s return underscores the ever-revolving dynamics within the world of international football, where second chances and redemption stories are not uncommon.
In the lead-up to the 2023 AFCON, the Nigeria national team is actively preparing, and planning to engage in two pivotal friendly matches against Saudi Arabia and Mozambique over the next six days.
These friendlies serve as a crucial testing ground for both seasoned players like Maduka Okoye and emerging talents, as they aim to solidify their roles and contributions in the pursuit of glory on the African football stage.