Nigeria’s head Coach Gernot Rohr has declared in unequivocal terms that the team will be without first choice goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, for the first-leg World Cup qualifying match against Central African Republic for disciplinary reasons.
Maduka Okoye arrived the team’s camp in Lagos three days after playing a league match on Sunday for his Eredivisie side Sparta Rotterdam.
Although there’s been no further details on what transpired between the 22 year-old and the Coach, it is clear though that there will be no sacred cows under Rohr’s watch.
Rohr is instituting some ground rules and it doesn’t matter whose head is on the chopping block, the Coach will not condone unprofessional conduct in his camp and this is laudable.
This decision will leave the German with the options of Francis Uzoho and Daniel Akpeyi to select from for the first-leg against a struggling opponent this Thursday.
CAR are bottom of group C with no wins (1D, 1L), conceded 2 goals and scored just one.
However, while the stats above shouldn’t really bother the Nigerian defence, the issue with Okoye’s likely absence lies with his deputies, Uzoho and Akpeyi – the duo divide opinion as neither seems to be an upgrade.
This season all three goalies have had a distinctively different start to their campaigns.
While the 22 year-old Maduka is first choice at Sparta Rotterdam, making 8 league appearances, Uzoho moved from APOEL to Omonia in the last transfer window but has not been handed game time.
He is one of four goalkeepers waiting their turn as understudy to Brazilian 33 year-old Fabiano.
On his part Daniel Akpeyi, 35, has made two appearances for his PSL side Kaizer Chiefs as second choice to South Africa’s Bruce Bvuma.
What the disciplinary situation makes clear is that Rohr hasn’t only self-inflicted himself with a selection headache, there’s also a genuine problem of the dearth of quality available in the goalkeeping department.
So far, the two available goalies have been put through two days of rigorous regimens in the training sessions with goalkeeper trainer and former Nigeria international Alloy Agu.
Agu will hope his work on the duo leaves no traces of rustiness; for whoever is selected to face the stubborn CAR team.