Nigerian-Born Talent Ime Okon Cracks South Africa’s 2023 AFCON Squad!

Nigerian-Born Talent Ime Okon Cracks South Africa’s 2023 AFCON Squad!

Hugo Broos, the head coach of South Africa’s national football team, Bafana Bafana, unveiled a 50-man provisional squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), including Ime Okon, a Nigerian-born defender.

The announcement, made on Thursday, outlines plans to confirm the final 27-player squad by January 7, 2024, for the upcoming tournament.

Okon, born to a Nigerian father, stands among the 18 defenders under consideration. Despite his impressive performances with SuperSport United, a South African club, the 19-year-old has yet to earn his debut for the national team.

The defender has notably received two prior invitations from South Africa, but he remains undecided about his international future, considering the competition within Nigeria’s Super Eagles squad.

Speaking in a previous SABC report in October 2023, Okon expressed an open-minded approach toward representing either South Africa or Nigeria. His dual nationality offers him the choice to potentially play for either country.

In his debut season in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) with SuperSport, Okon gained promotion to the senior team under coach Gavin Hunt in July. His impressive performances captured the attention of Bafana Bafana’s head coach, Broos, leading to his inclusion in the preliminary squads for the September and October international windows.

Regarding his international prospects, Okon at the time said, “I just don’t want any pressure, but I just keep my mind open to both and whatever comes first then we’ll see what happens because it’s quite a tough decision for me.”

He elaborated further on his connection to both countries, saying, “South Africa is the country I was born and bred in, but Nigeria now is my home where my dad is from. I’d say for now it’s better with South Africa because with Hugo Broos he sees us around. With Nigeria, it’ll be quite tough, but I just do my best to also get a call up there,” during his conversation with SABC.

South Africa will compete in Group E against Tunisia, Mali, and Zambia at the 2023 AFCON, where Okon will aim to make a significant impact as part of Bafana Bafana’s defensive setup.



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