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Africa Cup of Nations

Rohr: Why Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Akpeyi lost Super Eagles number one spot

1:45 AM IST 12/01/22
Daniel Akpeyi
The 35-year-old last featured for the Super Eagles at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals and has had to settle for the bench since then

Former Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has listed reasons why Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi has struggled to keep his starting spot in the national team.

Since 2019, Akpeyi has been a reserve goalkeeper, falling behind Sparta Rotterdam’s Maduka Okoye and Francis Uzoho.

He was on the bench in six of Nigeria’s 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifying matches and was again an understudy to Okoye when the Super Eagles edged Egypt 1-0 in Tuesday’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals opener.

“He never lost his place in the national team as one of our three goalkeepers,” Rohr told iDiski Times.

“He lost the number one because he had some injuries and was ill at times, giving the others a chance to play and play well.

“Francis Uzoho also came back, who was the youngest goalkeeper at the 2018 World Cup with 18 years. Maduka also played a great season at Sparta Rotterdam, which saw him take the number one shirt.”

After some cameo appearances for Nigeria since 2015, Akpeyi was thought to have sealed the number one spot when he started five games at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.

But he fell back to the bench and has been a reserve goalkeeper again even after having being a regular at Kaizer Chiefs of late.

Rohr still speaks highly of the goalkeeper he selected to the bench for the better part of his reign as Nigeria coach.

“He is an absolute professional, he’s also always been professional in training,” said Rohr.

“He’s played an important role in our team, as one of the most experienced players, who has experienced a lot in over 10 years. His mentality was always positive. He also supported the coaching team through his communication around the team.

“Whether in training, in the game, on the pitch or on the bench, Akpeyi was always very professional. I respected that about him.”

It is yet to be seen if Akpeyi will be handed an opportunity between the sticks during the ongoing Afcon tournament.