The two young goalkeepers have been under scrutiny following their unimpressive displays for the three-time Afcon champions
Former Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo has called on Super Eagles fans to show patience and support for the goalkeeping duo of Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho.
With Nigeria still looking for a long-term successor for retired shot-stopper Vincent Enyeama, Okoye and Uzoho have at different times stood between the posts for the Super Eagles.
Uzoho was Nigeria’s number one at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, while Okoye was the first-choice at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon earlier this year.
But both have seen individual errors recently halt the Super Eagles’ progress at two major tournaments.
Okoye fumbled a long-range shot from Tunisia’s Youssef Msakni, the only goal that knocked Nigeria out of Cameroon 2021.
Uzoho then allowed a speculative Thomas Partey shot to go under him last week Tuesday as Ghana’s Black Stars beat the Super Eagles to the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying ticket.
And both goalkeepers have come under attack from a section of the national team’s supporters on social media for their costly errors.
However, ex-Watford and Granada striker Ighalo believes constant heckling of the youngsters could shoot down their confidence. Instead, the Al-Hilal forward has urged fans to support the two 22-year-olds as they continue their development.
“I felt sad about all the abuse (directed at Okoye and Uzoho),” Ighalo told ESPN.
“I know Nigerians always want to win, but these are young boys.
“One mistake is not the end of the world. People tend to forget that footballers are humans too. We cannot destroy the confidence of these boys because of one mistake.
“Okoye is a good goalkeeper. Uzoho is a good goalkeeper and they will grow and learn from this experience. But they need support.”
Uzoho has apologised for the error that led to Nigeria’s elimination from the World Cup, revealing he has had the worst days of his life since that moment.