By Patrick Omorodion
Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi believes the decision to use reserve goalkeeper Francis Uzoho in Wednesday’s Africa Cup of Nations third/fourth place playoff against Tunisia had nothing to do with his performance against Algeria.
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr noted ahead of the match against the Carthage Eagles that he would like to see the remaining players who are yet to feature in Egypt to also have the opportunity to do so.
Deportivo La Coruna loan out Uzoho to Omonia Nicosia(Opens in a new browser tab)
Akpeyi has kept in five of the six games in Egypt, and he was able to keep two clean sheets while letting in five goals in those encounters.
Ikechukwu Ezenwa was preferred in the Eagles 2-0 loss to Madagascar, while Uzoho – who was the incumbent before the start of Afcon – manned the post against Tunisia.
“It is a coincidence that Francis Uzoho is going to be starting when my performance is under scrutiny again just like it was when we played against Argentina in a friendly game like two years ago,” Akpeyi told Goal.
“I remember that two days before that friendly game with Argentina in Krasnodar, Russia, the coach had called me and informed me that he would like to use Uzoho also in that game. He said I would be starting the game while he would replace me in the second half.
“I know that Nigerians will start saying that this is another mistake from me and that the same goalkeeper is replacing me.
“Even though I made a mistake which resulted into one of Argentines’ goals, my substitution in the second half was based on what the coach had told me with before the game that I would only take the first half but it was twisted to mean that it was because of the goals I conceded.”
While he won’t be considered for the third-place clash against Tunisia, Akpeyi admitted he is confident the Super Eagles would beat the Carthage Eagles and remain unbeaten in bronze medal matches.
“I have always believed in everybody in the team that we can beat Tunisia,” he added.
“We have a good team no matter what the criticisms are. We failed to qualify for two consecutive Afcon and it was the same set of players that Nigerians are clamouring for now that played those qualifiers.
“But we were able to qualify this time and even got to the semi-final and still in the running for a third-place finish. It shows that young talents are evolving. I must commend the hard work of our coach who stated that everybody must get playing time here in Egypt.
“Either I am playing or not, I still believe in the Super Eagles.”