Daniel Akpeyi: The courageous Eagles shot-stopper

Daniel Akpeyi failed to claim the Africa Cup of Nations title in Cameroon, but he is now hoping to forge ahead.

The Super Eagles star will go down as one of the most courageous shot-stoppers to don the green and white.

Akpeyi started his career in Nigeria with the amateur side Gabros International. He moved from the academy to the senior team before leaving for Nasarawa United in July 2007.

He spent two years with the Northerners before leaving for Heartland in 2009. While at Heartland, he put up outstanding performances to help his side to the final of the CAF Champions League. Unfortunately, they lost out to Congolese side TP Mazembe in the finals.

Nonetheless, his time with the Naze Millionaires was very fruitful, as he had two FA Cup triumphs to his name.

After five productive years with Heartland, he moved on to Warri Wolves. His time with the sea-siders was not trophy-laden, but he performed outstandingly.

The 35-year-old’s breakthrough came in 2015 when he sealed a move to South African side Chippa United.

Although it was not the biggest possible move, leaving the Nigerian league with all the shenanigans was a massive step up.

Akpeyi played 104 games for Chippa United, conceding 105 goals and securing 36 clean sheets.

After four decent seasons at the club, Kaizer chiefs came calling, and the Super Eagles star answered, securing a move to the twelve-time South African champions.

He has not cemented his spot as the first choice shot-stopper at Chiefs, but whenever he has been called upon, he has proved his brilliance.

On the international scene, Akpeyi started with the Nigeria Under-20s. He was part of the team that finished second at the 2005 FIFA Youth World Cup.

The former Warri Wolves man got his breakthrough for the senior team under late coach Stephen Keshi in 2015 when he made his debut for the Super Eagles in a friendly game against South Africa.

Since then, he has gone on to make 18 more appearances.

Akpeyi was the first choice keeper at the 2019 AFCON. But many still blame Nigeria’s semifinal loss to Algeria on his poor positioning for Mahrez’s free-kick.

Nonetheless, the 35-year-old showed courage to recover from the disappointments and insults hauled at him.

Akpeyi was also called up for the last AFCON in Cameroon, but he was a peripheral entity, a backup to first-choice Maduka Okoye.

Akpeyi may not be the first choice goalkeeper, but he has excellent team spirit, and he would be eager to help Nigeria to the World Cup when they battle against Ghana in March.

 

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