Former Nigerian captain and goalkeeper, Peter Rufai has criticised Super Eagles’ manager, Gernot Rohr for handing Maduka Okoye the number one shirt in the presence of well-established and tested goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) double header against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone.
The Dutch Eredivisie goalie manned the post for the Nigerian side in the highly criticised Eagles’ 4-4 draw in Benin City and goalless draw in Freetown, Sierra Leone against their counterparts, Leone Stars.
The outcome though kept Nigeria at the summit of the group on eight points one ahead of closest challengers, Benin Republic the remaining two matches on the calendar to Benin Republic and Lesotho are delicately poised on who earns the sole ticket.
Rufai said there is nowhere in the world that any country’s mainstream team is used as an experimental slab.
“It’s wrong for Rohr to have considered a relatively new goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye ahead of well-established and tested goalkeepers, Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa for the crucial AFCON qualifiers against Sierra Leone.
“National team has tradition in the choice of players for assignment and those well known traditions are strictly adhered to in all cases especially where the known players are fit and in good shape.
“Akpeyi and Ezenwa have weathered the storm with the national team and its fair, just and proper to accord them their respect at all times whenever choice is to be made in that department.
“Okoye is quite new vis-a-vis where he is coming from should not have been handed the mainstream team job straightaway.
“Ideally, he should have been allowed to come through the ranks before ascending to the highest height.
“It’s quite strange how players nowadays stroll into the senior national team without cutting their teeth in the other age-grade categories.
“Experimentation in the senior national team is truly hurting us except we do not want to tell ourselves the truth,” said the former Deportivo de La Coruna shot stopper.
FC Lugano of Switzerland goaltender, Sebastian Osigwe is the other new player the Eagles’ manager, Rohr equally considered for the first team duty as well.