• Pleads with Nigerians to forget Benin miscalculation• Injured Osimhen leaves camp
Super Eagles and Kaiser Chiefs goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi, has declared that the team have learnt big lessons from the first leg of their AFCON qualifier against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone last Friday in Benin city. He said the Eagles would turn the table against their host tomorrow in Freetown. In a chat with The Guardian yesterday, Akpeyi said: “We are going to Freetown to fix the wrongs made here. It will not be easy because they are playing at home, and with the momentum they left here with, they will be on a high spirit. But again, they might be big headed, and if that is the case, it will be to our advantage because we need the three points to secure our qualification.” On what happened at the Samurai Ogbemudia Stadium, Akpeyi said: “Honestly, I think we were complacent in the second half because we never saw them coming back from 0-4, which is not supposed to be from our part as a true professional.”
He pleaded with Nigerians not to put the blame of the 4-4 draw on any particular player, particularly the goalkeeper Okoye saying: “I don’t think it is right to put the blame on one person. Nothing is wrong with Okoye and he has no fault for any of the goals from my own point of view.
“Some Nigerians and some Nigerian media are too quick to put the blame on keepers first, especially when the goals conceded is much. “Even though I came here to play, I don’t think it will be a wise decision for the coach to change him because the team conceded four goals except if he had a plan before the game to say he will play someone else in Freetown.
“I’m used to the criticism and the Nigerian soccer media’s hatred of me because they have their choice for reasons best known to them. However, the people that understand the dynamics of football have interest in me otherwise I wouldn’t have been here long time.” Akpeyi continues: “There’s nothing wrong with criticism, but it has to be constructive but not hatred and start using abusive words because they think no one can do them anything, and because they are fighting for someone else. As I said, I thank God I have always found myself in the midst of true professionals who understands the game and its dynamics, and they’ve always told me to focus on my career and not what the media tries to put out there.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s camp was depleted at the weekend by the withdrawal of the injured Victor Osimhen from the squad.
According to Eagles Media Officer, Femi Raji, the striker, who was injured in the first leg against Sierra Leone, has been withdrawn to allow him see medical experts on his ailment.