Chaos going on Daniel Akpeyi’s mind as he watched Ever Banega’s superbly curled free kick suave past him and appeared inside the net for Argentina’s goal in last week’s friendly with Nigeria
It was just punishment for a basic error from the keeper, as he picked up the ball after dropping it outside his box. he was lucky to have escaped a red card for the offence, but was caught wrong-footed by Banega’s fine free kick.
In Nigerian fashion, some comments on Twitter suggested that perhaps his village people were on his pursuit, or that he had offended some gods in his village.
You could forgive Akpeyi for also questioning whether the gods were against him when he knelt down contemplating the error that had gifted the Argentines not just the free kick, but the goal.
Thankfully, that was as bad as it got against the Argentines, as the goalkeeper recovered to make two excellent stops not long after.
By then, though, it was too late. He was already trending on Twitter in Nigeria, with his errors. In his post-game explanation, the Chippa United goalkeeper admitted his error, but claimed he had seen the assistant referee’s flag go up and assumed that the play was stopped for offside.
Akpeyi’s case was not helped when young Deportivo La Coruna goalkeeper Francis Uzoho came on as scheduled in the second half and gave the kind of nerve-calming performance that only served to highlight the elder goalie’s flaws. In the days since, there have been calls for Gernot Rohr to drop Akpeyi and look elsewhere for a third keeper for the World Cup.
Uzoho, after just 45 minutes of international football, has been crowned by some as number one. Ikechukwu Ezenwa gets a pass, but Akpeyi supposedly has a battle to be in the 23. This is the moment that the South Africa-based stopper must step up and show how badly he wants to go to Russia.
If he is to remain in the running for Russia, Akpeyi has to exorcise whatever demons he has inside of him, and focus on playing football to the best of his ability.
If he allows himself to be distracted by thoughts of what his village people will do and focus on making a divine comeback to restore his glory.