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Okoye: I Had Sleepless Nights After AFCON 2021 Mistake

Okoye: I Had Sleepless Nights After AFCON 2021 Mistake

Super Eagles goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, has revealed that he had a sleepless night after his error cost the Super Eagles a place in the quarter-finals of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

Recall that a few minutes into the second half, Youssef Msakni fired a shot from outside the penalty area, which Okoye should have done better with but couldn’t, and that resulted in a goal for Tunisia and led to Nigeria’s exit from the tournament.

His howler didn’t go down well with Nigerians, as they criticized him heavily on social media.


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However, in an interview with OmaSports TV, the Udinese goalkeeper stated that the pain still exists in his mind.

“At that moment, I told myself I should have done better. It pains me till today, to be honest.

“You could see it was a mistake because I had to keep the ball out of the goal. If I want to play at Inter Milan, then I have to do better in such situations.

“I’ve been training hard, improving in the last two years because I don’t want things like that to happen again.

“Mistakes happen, last week, Manuel Neuer, who is one of the best, made a mistake. It’s part of the game, and it was hard for me as a young boy to go through it after it happened.

“I’m not just talking about what I read on social media, it’s more about the feeling of letting your teammates down, your family down, and letting your country down.

“At this stage, I’m not even reading the nonsense on social media anymore. Some people still talk bad about Cristiano Ronaldo despite his achievements.

“People will always say something bad about you. I know myself that I didn’t do good in that situation, and I know that I let my teammates and my country down in that situation.

“And I’m still to this day unhappy and sad about it, and I wish I could do differently, but it happened and I learned from my mistake.”

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  • osaretin 3 weeks ago

    Go and and sin no more bro, you are forgiven. Fact is it takes a lot of courage and maturity to say what you did

  • My advice to the prayers especially those that didn’t grow up in Nigeria, bad games can happen to anyone incase that happen to you, cuz it will it’s part of the game, just turn off your social media platforms at least for a week, cuz na mad people full dia o.

  • Mistakes are a part of the game as well as in life, so we should always keep that in mind and go easy with the criticisms.

    “He that is without sin should cast the first stone.”

    It’s always the hypocritical Pharisees that carry the biggest stones.

  • Michel 3 weeks ago

    This is the only way he can be forgiven and clear his mind,some people defended him but we clearly saw that he cost us that game ..had he used two hands to push that ball away,he would made the save but he chose to use one hand and it didn’t work

    • Dr. Drey 3 weeks ago

      Wow…..I guess you’ve ever seen a goalkeeper parry a shot that changed direction a close proximity with both hands.

      How about the 4 players the tunisian manouvered his way around before having all the freedom in the world to take a shot at goal…?

      What about the strikers who frittered away chances to get a goal of our own the entire game…?

      And the technical crew who couldn’t work their way around a Tunisian B team managed by a coach with no name…?

  • _ The Ghost from a Haunted Past _

    At the time, I frowned at the decision to install Okoye as Super Eagles’ numero uno, no so much for technical abilities (which itself wasn’t yet refined or up to scratch) but because I felt his mental shoulders were not broad enough support national team responsibilities.

    “It was hard for me as a young boy to go through (the mistake against Tunisia in the afcon) after it happened.” Said Okoye recently.

    For one, the coached employed a loose formation that offered less robust protection for any goalkeeper. And then the goalkeeper himself was still learning the ropes which created the perfect recipe for disaster.

    Despite his maturity now, he is still not immune from mistakes but he should now be better equipped to reduce propensity to errors and better deal with the consequences of those errors should they occur.

    Nigeria still has a realistic chance of qualifying for the 2026 world cup via the backdoor of playoffs. Integral to this effort would be having a competent and mature goalkeeper with refined skills.

    We now have Stanley Nwabili who hasn’t put a foot wrong. Yes, since the Afcon – where he kept record number of clean sheets – he has managed to leak 6 goals in 4 games. But these were not entirely his fault: the Super Eagles have departed from the defensive discipline that defined their approach at the afcon leading to hemorrhaging at the back.

    From his recent public statements, one can read between the lines that Okoye is keen to reclaim the starting 11 slot that he himself vacated due to mental immaturity. It has to be recalled that, although he recieved abuse on social media from equally immature fans following the Tunisia debacle, Coach Eguavoen and in fact several high ranking members of NFF still held him in high esteem and had no qualms for him to continue in-post.

    In his self-imposed exile, Nwabili has filled the void solidly as a traditional goalkeeper and a modern ball-player. It will be pure injustice to just brush him aside for a remorseful Okoye.

    But, should Nwabili get injured or become unavailable for any reason, the road to starting 11 place will be free for Okoye.

    For now, his PR (Public Relations) exercise to win back hearts and minds of fans, laced with quality performances in the Italian League appear to be hitting the right notes with the fans.

    But the tune Super Eagles fans will have to dance to when indeed he does make his return is what would banish, once and for all, the ghost of that fateful game against Tunisia in 2022!

  • Was he the only goalkeeper to have ever made a mistake? The boy just took the blame upon himself maybe because of the bashing he got on social media. To me I can never blame him for that goal because it was a swerving ball more over, the defense let him down. How on earth would they have allow a striker to shoot from that side with nobody to block it?.Manuel Neuer made a howler in the champion league semi final that knocked his team out and that doesn’t take away the fact that he is one of the best goalkeeper in the world. In fact he is still the number one for his country and he came instantly to reclaim his number one spot after a long time out from injury.
    Who says Nwabali can’t made mistake too, what about the one he made against Benin? I don’t even know they can score goal past him behind the net mtcheeew. All this long epistle doesn’t hold water if the coach deem him fit to start as number one so be it.

  • pompei 3 weeks ago

    Maduka, the downfall of a man is not the end of his life.
    We criticized you for your error. That is now in the past. We now must look forward.
    With hard work and determination, you have earned a deserved recall to the team.
    Now, just stay level headed and consistent.
    With you and Nwabali, I personally feel good about our goalie department.
    Naija fans are rooting for you!

  • Chima E Samuels 3 weeks ago

    Have you changed? No I don’t think so because I saw your howler from a free kick in one of your league games towards the end of the season. I’m not denying some of your mvp performances either. For me I still don’t believe in any of our present goal keepers. The scouts should do more research….

    • Arara Kumbie 3 weeks ago

      @Chima, we need Dele Alampasu. He is far better than most other Super Eagles players.

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