Super Eagles of Nigeria interim coach, Austin Eguavoen has defended harsh criticism against goalkeeper Maduka Okoye having taken full responsibility for the lone goal conceded in their 1-0 defeat to Tunisia at the Round-of-16 phase of the ongoing African Cup of Nations tournament in Cameroon, Ojbsport has exclusively revealed.
The 3-time African champions — who had a blistering start to the campaign, winning all 3 group stage matches — were eliminated by an erratic and covid-decimated Tunisian side courtesy of Youssef Msakni’s swerving strike from distance in the 47th minute that caught the Nigerian goalie completely off guard.
However, this goalkeeping gaffe from Maduka Okoye that led to the Super Eagles shock exit has birthed series of criticisms and castigations from Nigerian supporters against the shot stopper and also, it has raised skepticism as to the goalkeeping prowess and proficiency of the 22-year-old.
In response to the appalling situation, coach Austin Eguavoen staved off condemnation laid against the newly-signed Watford man when disclosing to the press that he takes full responsibility for the shortcoming in the game and points no accusing finger on any player including Maduka Okoye.
Speaking to the press on Monday morning, Austin Eguavoen has this to say:
” I don’t want to blame anybody. I take full responsibility for what has happened. That is why we have coaches, we discuss, reflect on happenings and comeback with a final say.”
In a further conversation, the coach gave explanation of the actual occurrence in the following words:
” We need to look at where the action started and not just the goal. It could have been stopped. The player (Youssef Msakni) could have been closed down but wasn’t and due to the light texture of the ball, it came through bodies before the young man (Maduka Okoye) could see it and it swerved a little bit. So saying the goal is completely Okoye’s fault, I don’t agree!.”
” Once again, I take full responsibility because the onus was on me to say yes or no!, but I like to concede some certain things at certain times,” he added.
The Super Eagles will be departing Garoua, Cameroon soon with preparations for the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualification playoffs versus Ghana expected to commence in earnest.