Super Eagles goalkeeper Maduka Okoye is confident of Nigeria’s chances in Cameroon.
Okoye said the target is to win the title last won in 2013.
Nigeria last won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013 when Stephen Okechukwu Keshi led a band of misfits to conquer Africa. Then, nobody gave the team a chance, but they surprised everyone, perhaps, including themselves.
As an African heavyweight, the Africa Cup of Nations is a competition Nigeria should feature regularly, but it is shocking to see the country fail to qualify on numerous occasions. Nigeria did not participate in three of the last five tournaments, missing out in 2012, 2015 and 2017. For an African giant, it is unacceptable. Nigeria must always be present and challenging for the title, not being content with being participants.
In about two weeks, Africa’s biggest competition, the Africa Cup of Nations, will commence and like in 2013, no one is giving the Super Eagles of Nigeria a chance to win it. Perhaps, that is why Augustine Eguavoen has remained tightlipped on his target for the competition. Maduka Okoye is, however, confident the Super Eagles can win AFCON.
Maduka Okoye tips Eagles to win AFCON
Nigerian players may not ply their trade at clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester City or Chelsea, but they are no pushovers either. They play for some of the finest clubs in Europe and will step onto the pitches in Cameroon confident of their abilities. Super Eagles goalkeeper Maduka Okoye alludes to this when he said the Super Eagles of Nigeria have the quality to rule the continent.
Speaking with Rijnmond, as per FcUpdate, Okoye has expressed confidence in the team and was equivocal about their target in Cameroon. He said the team was going to Cameroon to win the tournament.
Okoye is not intimidated by the pedigree of other teams. While others tip hosts Cameroon, defending champions Algeria and seven-time winners Egypt to win the tournament, Okoye believes it is a big mistake to overlook Nigeria.
A disjointed preparation
The preparations of the Super Eagles suggest that the team won’t go far in the tournament. The last time they failed to make it beyond the quarter-final was in 2008, when they lost to Ghana.
The preparation for the tournament has been disjointed for Nigeria. The Super Eagles head coach was dismissed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) after dismal performances, with less than a month to AFCON.
Even with the former Super Eagles coach Augustine Eguavoen replacing Gernot Rohr in an interim capacity, it is still unclear if the manager would lead the team in Cameroon.
On Wednesday, the NFF president Amaju Pinnick said the Federation was close to agreeing on a new technical adviser. The announcement could come after Christmas.
Despite the shenanigans behind the scenes, Maduka Okoye, who will join Watford next season, remains upbeat about the Super Eagles chances at AFCON. He wants to return to Sparta Rotterdam with a prize, and he said as much in a recent interview.
Okoye should remain the Super Eagles number one goalkeeper, despite the dismissal of Gernot Rohr. He made his debut for Nigeria in 2019.
Nigeria will begin their quest for AFCON with a tie against Egypt on January 11.
This article was most recently revised and updated 6 months ago