February, 22 2022.
By Wale Ajayi.
It is one of the best kept secrets from the just concluded AFCON, it is one story many knew about but have refused to report. It is the truth and nothing but the truth our source revealed.
Fresh facts have emerged as to why Watford of England goalkeeper Maduka Okoye had a below average performance against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in that Second round defeat that ended Nigeria's hope of a fourth AFCON title.
It is no longer news that Okoye's second half blunder led to the only goal in a match Nigeria clearly dominated but failed to find a cutting edge even after going down to ten men, following the sending off of Everton of England midfielder, Alex Iwobi.
NSM Media can exclusively report that the former Sparta Rotterdam of Netherland goalkeeper, allegedly fell sick before the match and the team doctors reported the news to interim head coach, Augustine Eguaveon who immediately contacted goalkeepers trainer Alloy Agu for some explanation.
Our very impeccable source said that as much as Eguaveon was willing to rest Okoye for the match, he trusted Agu's position which gave Okoye an all clear for the game played in Garoua.
Nothing was said about the nature of his sickness but the source claimed he was not in a stable condition and was not mentally psyched up for a match of that magnitude.
He looked dizzy and weak the night before and was complaining of tiredness three hours before the game so it is a shame that the coaches still went ahead to declare him fit to play, the source concluded.
It's exactly two weeks since Sadio Mane inspired the Teranga Lions of Senegal to their first AFCON title with a penalty shootout win against the Pharoahs of Egypt, but memories from that ill-fated defeat to Tunisia still lingers in the hearts of football loving Nigerians.
Perhaps they deserve an urgent answer to this begging question.