Goalkeeper trainer for the Super Eagles, Alloy Agu has weighed in on the furore surrounding national team goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi whose perceived error in positioning many fans blame for Riyad Mahrez’s last-gasp free-kick winner in Nigeria’s semifinal loss to Algeria in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
With the game firmly poised at 1-1 and seemingly headed for extra-time, Eagles midfielder Wilfred Ndidi conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box to the left of Akpeyi’s goal.
With Mahrez stood behind the ball to the left and Mehdi Zeffane to the right, Akpeyi arranged his wall to protect the left part of his goal but then stood behind the wall leaving ample space to his right which Mahrez duly exploited to score the winner.
Despite the goalkeeper maintaining afterwards that he had a clear sight of the ball and was only beaten by a well-taken kick, many Nigerians have pilloried his stance, and have placed the blame for Nigeria’s failure to make the finals firmly at his doorstep with many of the opinion that he ‘hid’ behind his wall thereby giving Mahrez an easy sight of goal.
And speaking in an exclusive interview with busybuddiesng.com, Agu who played twenty-eight times for the national team and was part of the 1994 AFCON winning squad to Tunisia explained how goalkeepers normally set up in such situations.
“First you have to look at the position where the infringement is being committed, and the first point is that you place your wall so that you can have a viewpoint [and] a direct contact with the ball. That is the first thing you have to do – you have a direct contact with the ball no matter the wall you have put in place, you must have a direct view with the ball,” Agu said.
“Secondly, you have to wait, you don’t move before the ball is being kicked – you wait for the ball, what makes you to move is the ball. Therefore, the second thing you need to do is you wait for the ball to be kicked. The moment the ball is kicked, because you’re having a direct contact with the ball then you can now react.”
Agu implied that Akpeyi was badly positioned for Mahrez’s strike and said going forward, more work will be put in to ensure that the goalkeepers under his tutelage understand the message about properly positioning themselves in such situations.
“So, when you have that kind of situation in the near future, what we need to do as we continue to advocate, is that you form your wall and you are not behind your wall – you are in contact with the ball and also you take your action the moment the ball is kicked, then you react.
“You don’t have to go before the ball you react immediately after the ball has been kicked because you can see, where the ball is going to.”