ARSENAL’S teenage goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo is could be called up for Nigeria when Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr names his squad next month as the youngster recent emergence as the club’s third choice keeper has caught the eye.
British-born Okonkwo,19, has played with the England U17 team before and Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr has been hoping to convince him to switch his allegiance and opt to play for Nigeria at the senior level. Okonkwo was a product of the Arsenal youth academy, who was handed his first professional contract when he turned 18.
Last season, Okonkwo missed the whole of the 2019/20 campaign due to an undisclosed ailment but has now fully recovered. During the current campaign, however, he has been a revelation, as after establishing himself as the number goalkeeper of Arsenals U21 team, he was promoted to the main squad and has since established himself as the club’s third choice keeper.
Mr Rohr has noticed his progress and may invite the youngster to train with the Super Eagles next month when they report to camp for two African Nations Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and Benin Republic. Okonkwo is eligible to play for England but the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) is confident about securing his services.
One NFF source said: “There is a spot for young goalkeepers in the team because the experience of Maduka Okoye paid off big time. He is now first choice at Sparta Rotterdam, whereas a year ago he was third choice at Fortuna Dusseldorf.
“Okonkwo is on the list of players Rohr is monitoring and if all goes according to plan, he could be in with a chance to play with the team later this year. He just needs to be consistent at the level he is playing now and also be around the first team at Arsenal.”
Plucked from obscurity to become the Super Eagles number two, Maduka Okoye became the first choice after Francis Uzoho suffered a nasty knee injury that has kept him out for about a season. Following his featuring for the Eagles, Okoye got snapped up by Sparta Rotterdam and has been an ever-resent in goal this season, firmly establishing himself as the club’s first choice keeper.