ALEXANDRIA – Super Eagles head coach has Gernot Rohr declared himself satisfied with goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi despite the goalkeeper giving a mixed performance between the sticks for Nigeria in their Group B opening 1-0 win over Burundi at 2019 Africa Cup of Nations at the Alexandria Stadium in Egypt.
The 32-year old who was chosen to start Nigeria’s first game at a Nations Cup in six years ahead of erstwhile number one Francis Uzoho provided moments of genuine quality interspersed with a jitteriness that nearly cost the Super Eagles on a number of occasions.
Akpeyi marked his first competitive outing for the Super Eagles in 20 months by producing a save of the highest quality from Cedric Amissi’ point-blank volley to prevent the Swallows from taking the lead in the 14th minute only to then put his team under pressure when he mishandled Ola Aina’s simple back pass to concede a corner five minutes later.
He also saved well from Gael Bigirimana but nearly let the Burundians into the game just a few seconds after Odion Ighalo had given Nigeria the lead when he dawdled and then attempted to dribble nearly costing his side a goal in the process.
Rohr who had indicated that the Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa goalie was his new number one for the AFCON by playing him in the pre AFCON friendlies against Senegal and Zimbabwe preferred to focus on the positives, pointing out his clean sheet and point-blank save which kept Nigeria in the game as more important than his “mistakes”.
He, however, expressed displeasure over Akpeyi’s hapless attempt at a dribble but said the former Chippa United and Warri Wolves shot-stopper had shown enough over the past three weeks to claim the number one shirt.
“The goalkeeper did not concede a goal which is good for him and for the team, and he stopped a wonderful opportunity in the first half and as you know that the first goal is the most important, so in that situation, he was really very good.
“Then we know that sometimes there can also be mistakes, what happened when he tried to dribble with the ball I don’t like that he did it but we will try to make it better next time, but what I saw from him the last three weeks was really so good in the training sessions that today he was our number 1.”
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