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Maduka Okoye: Nigerian Goalie Who Rejected AFCON Call Up Helps Team Upset Juventus in Serie A
- Maduka Okoye was in inspired form against Juventus on Monday
- The Nigerian goalkeeper pulled excellent saves to keep out The Old Lady
- His side Udinese claimed a crucial 1-0 win against the title contenders
Udinese goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, was the star of the show as his side upset the odds to beat Juventus 1-0 in the Serie A on Monday, February 12.
The 24-year-old made a series of great saves, including keeping out Arkadiusz Milik’s close-range header to keep his team in the game.
In truth, it was a sluggish performance from Massimiliano Allegri’s men, who did not look like they were up to the task, and defeat now leaves them seven points behind league leaders Inter, who have a game in hand.
Milik was particularly guilty of missing some great chances but Udinese, with the help of Okoye, stayed firm to keep out a string of attacks from the Turin club.
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Andrea Cambiaso and Federico Chiesa also came close during the game, but it was not meant to be as Lautaro Gianetti’s goal in the 25th minute proved to be enough for the visitors.
Juventus failed to improve after the break but had a head in-hands moment after Milik’s header which found the net was chopped off as the ball was adjudged to have gone out of play in the build-up.
Credit has to go to Okoye, who showed bravery between the sticks in hostile territory.
The Nigerian also exhibited good reading of the game and was not caught out at any point by the Old Lady’s long-range strikes or devilish free kicks into his penalty area.
Why didn’t Okoye go to AFCON?
While his abilities between the sticks are undeniable, some may wonder why Okoye did not make the Super Eagles squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.
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Despite being named in the squad for the Super Eagles during friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Mozambique, Okoye did not feature in those matches, with Francis Uzoho being preferred by the coaches.
Pulse Sports reports that Okoye ultimately turned down a call-up and instead chose to stay with Udinese.
Okoye has not played for the Super Eagles since he was controversially blamed for Nigeria’s 2021 AFCON exit in Cameroon.
Okoye linked with Roma
Meanwhile, the young goalkeeper’s club career is looking up as he was recently linked with a move to Roma, who look set to part ways with Rui Patricio.
According to Romapress.net, the Portuguese goalie’s dip in form in the last year has seen the club explore potential long-term replacements, and the former Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper is on the shortlist.
Times Nigeria fell short in AFCON final
In other news, Sports Brief highlighted the number of times Nigeria has fallen short in the Africa Cup of Nations final.
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Despite winning the cup three times, the Super Eagles have come close on more occasions than any other nation.
Their first heartbreak was in 1984, when they lost 3-1 to Cameroon.