Super Eagles Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr has stated that the ‘best one will play’ as Daniel Akpeyi battles Ikechukwu Ezenwa for a starting position in goal for Nigeria against Zambia in a crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
Chippa United shotstopper, Akpeyi is back in the team after he missed the double-header against Cameroon due to injury. In his absence, CHAN Eagles captain, Ezenwa who plies his trade at Nigeria Professional Fotball League side, FC IfeanyiUbah, gave a good account of himself in between the sticks for the Eagles against the African Champions.
After overseeing the team’s first training session at the practice pitch of the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Tuesday, Rohr told Journalists that he was impressed with the performance of both goalkeepers, relishing the competition amongst them.
“What I’ve seen in the training session today (Tuesday) was very good,” the former Gabon and Burkina Faso coach said.
“(Ikechukwu) Ezenwa did very well. Daniel Akpeyi is coming back also. There is competition on this (goalkeeping) position. So, it’s very good for the team and this competition is very fair also. We welcome that.
“Ezenwa did very well in the WAFU team, five games without conceding a goal. He was the best goalkeeper of the tournament, so he has full confidence.
“Akpeyi is coming back, he is playing at Chippa United in a high level. So, we will see, the best one will play (against Zambia),” the 64-year old stated.
Akpeyi and Ezenwa have shared goalkeeping duties for Nigeria since first choice goalkeeper; Carl Ikeme was diagnosed with acute leukemia three months ago.
The Chippa United safe hands manned the sticks in Nigeria’s 3-1 win over Algeria on Match Day 2 of the qualifiers and was largely criticized as the Super Eagles lost 0-2 to South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in Uyo in a 2019 AFCON qualifying match in June.
On his part, Ezenwa was in fine form as Nigeria overcame Cameroon 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Uyo last month and were held 1-1 in Yaounde in the reverse fixture. He also kept four clean sheets as the Super Eagles reached the final of the recently-concluded 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations Tournament in Ghana, losing 4-1 in the final.
The third invited goalkeeper in the team is Dele Ajiboye of NPFL champions, Plateau United.