The harsh criticism and jibes won’t stop trickling in, at least not yet with a vast majority of it aimed at Daniel Akpeyi who stood in between the sticks in the first half on a night Nigeria showed it’s full potential of mixing it with football super powers.
Akpeyi was given a shot at redemption after his last outing against South Africa in Uyo ended in a 0-2 defeat, and yet again he buckled under intense pressure, like a human he is, and made an elementary error but it will not be the smartest of actions should the goal-tender be discarded and rendered an unfit for the World Cup after few errors.
It’s understandable why fans are calling for him to be weeded out of this soaring Eagles but it should be noted that apart from that mistake, he held firm for the remainder of the first half. He stymied a one-versus-one chance off Enzo Perez with a strong right arm and couple of minutes later, reacted quickly to thwart a cross flung towards an onrushing Di Maria at the near post by a rampaging Cristian Pavon who had outpaced Ola Aina, but this awesome and timely saves were understandably overlooked by almost everyone as it’s always been done to erred goalkeepers; the most victimized people in football. Playing in a position that football fans often forget is manned by fellow humans who are bound to make errors just like every other person on the pitch and not flawless robotics. A goalkeeper makes one human error that inturn leads to the opposition scoring, and not even a trailer load of audacious, back-breaking saves can undo the blunder which is now forever etched in memories of critics.
It has been quickly forgotten, since that dodgy performance against South Africa in June, that this is the same Daniel Akpeyi whom so much plaudits were bestowed upon for his Man-of-the-match performance against that same Bafana Bafana in 2015, when he came on for the injured Vincent Enyeama and stopped Andile Jali’s penalty. His heroics muffled by his jarring mistakes and a deafening call for him to be dropped from the Super Eagles.
All great keepers have at a certain point in their career made, atleast, one faux-pas that caused their team gravely. Even the legendary Enyeama has his own personal collection of howlers, most significant of all was that slip against Angola in 2005 at the Sani Abacha Stadium that eventually caused the Eagles the 2006 World Cup ticket. If that one is too distant, how about the most recent? At the Second Round of the 2014 World Cup against France, when he made a mess of a corner-kick and teed it accurately onto the head of Paul Pogba, who nodded it home and the goal quelled the spirit of resistance and determination fizzing through the outfield players and they were knocked out. He got battered for the mistakes but he bounced back from these nadir points to write his rich tale of legendary.
It is clear that the Chippa United net-minder has let his nerves humbled him out of the race for the Super Eagles No 1 but he shouldn’t be thrown out of the park because of human errors which can be committed by anyone in gloves in a football game.