Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr has revealed the reason behind his choice of Daniel Akpeyi ahead of Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Francis Uzoho in between the sticks against Burundi after Nigeria broke a 13-year-old jinx of not scoring in any of their opening games at an Africa Cup of Nations tourney.
The Franco-German’s Starting XI ahead of the Group B opening fixture raised eyebrows as two regular members of the tactician’s squad, Francis Uzoho and Odion Ighalo were listed among the substitutes.
After Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Carl Ikeme became unavailable to the 65-year-old due to Luekamia, Ex- Enyimba and current Katsina United’s goal tender Ikechukwu Ezenwa enjoyed a short mention on the team’s starting XI’s for the AFCON and World Cup Qualifiers but later fell down the pecking order as young, inexperienced and better exposed Francis Uzoho caught Rohr’s heart with his performance for Spanish League side, Deportivo La Coruna.
Ever since, Uzoho has stuck to Rohr’s starting squad lists in competitive games from the 2018 World Cup in Russia unto other crucial games but a howler against Seychelles in March cost the 20-year-old his position as Rohr’s first choice.
In the period, the Kaizer Chief’s safe hands only watched his counterparts handle the role but a showing against Seychelles and a pre-AFCON friendly against Zimbabwe and Senegal will earn the 32 year old an active spot in his gaffer’s heart as Rohr choose him to keep the attacking onslaughts of the Itamba Ru Mugamba of Burundi at bay.
“Akpeyi didn’t concede a goal and I have been impressed with what I’ve seen from him in the past few weeks.” Rohr told Pressmen during a post-match conference at Alexandria after Nigeria beat Burundi by a lone goal.
Nigeria will next face Equitorial Guinea on Wednesday 26 June and will hope to establish an impressive run during their 18th Cup of Nations campaign.