Can Daniel Akpeyi leapfrog Okoye and Uzoho as Nigeria's first choice?
Highly criticised Super Eagles goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi has started this season from where he left off last term with performances that singles him out as a veteran capable goalkeeper in the South African Premier League.
This week, Nigeria’s 2019 Afcon semi-final scapegoat was instrumental in Kaizer Chiefs 1:0 win against Amazulu FC in the league after his emphatic saves prevented the opposition from clawing their way back into the match.
The win helps them move up the league table following recent slump.
This is Akpeyi’s 5th game of the season out of 8 matches having been benched in Kaizer Chiefs’ last 4 games.
Today’s win was the first time the club will record such an outcome since 27 October 2020 when the Chiefs achieved a 1:0 away win against Daniel Akpeyi’s former club Chippa United. Incidentally, the Super Eagles goalkeeper was in post for that match.
In fact, Kaizer Chiefs have only won league games with Daniel Akpeyi in goal thus far this season: they recorded 3 losses and 2 draws when Akpeyi was benched but achieved 2 wins, 2 draws and only 1 loss with the Super Eagles goalkeeper in between their sticks.
All these are coming at a time when Akpeyi is expected by many fans to be relegated to 3rd choice goalkeeper for the Super Eagles.
Maduka Okoye, who was in goal for Nigeria’s last 4 games, is now more or less the number one goalkeeper for his club Sparta Rotterdam. He has been in goal in his club’s last 9 games to which they recorded 5 wins.
The 21 year old Germany born net minder is expected to continue being Super Eagles number one with all other things been equal.
With Uzoho back keeping again for Apoel Nicosia after the sacking of former Ireland coach Mick Mccarthy, it is conceivable to expect him to be second to Okoye in the pecking order.
It is hard to see where Ikechukwu Ezenwa would fit in as he hasn’t been overly impressive for Heatlands FC following the resumption of the Nigeria Professional Football League. He has thus far conceded 5 goals in just 2 games.
But Daniel Akpeyi on his part still has a role to play for Nigeria. Records continue to bear him out as a top performer in the South African Premier League.
But the main question is whether his performances – however stellar or headline grabbing – can see him ever again be picked ahead of Okoye or Uzoho if both are fit, flying and framed up mentally.
It seems unlikely as the two are younger, play in Europe and are arguably less error prone.
But, Akpeyi remains the most experienced among them.
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