I am not bothered by any criticism, targets World Cup – Akpeyi

Written by on February 23, 2018

Super Eagles goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi has said he is not bothered by any criticism but determined to push for his place in Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr’s 23-man squad for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

The South Africa-based keeper has been the subject of intense criticism after his blunders against South Africa in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier – which Bafana Bafana won 2-0 in Uyo on June 10 – and in the friendly game against Argentina in Russia November 14 won 4-2 by Nigeria.

Reports claim Akpeyi’s World Cup place could be under threat after Rohr was impressed by Dele Ajiboye’s performance at the 2018 African Nations Championship in Morocco.

Ajiboye made some brave saves to help Nigeria reach the CHAN final after coming on for first choice goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who was injured in the semifinal against Sudan.

Rohr is facing goalkeeping crisis with first choice keeper Carl Ikeme firmly out of the World Cup as he is undergoing treatment for acute leukaemia after being diagnosed with the illness in July.

Reports claim Akpeyi does not feature prominently in the German manager’s World Cup plans as he is said to be focusing on Ezenwa, Deportivo La Coruna keeper Francis Uzoho and Ajiboye for the World Cup.

However, Akpeyi, 31, insists he has been working hard for a place in Rohr’s Russia 2018 squad, saying he is not discouraged by criticsm.

“I am not competing with any goalkeeper in the team,” the Chippa United custodian was quoted by scorenigeria.com as saying on Thursday.

“I am grateful to the coach for inviting me and also giving me an opportunity to play.

“Nigeria have good keepers waiting for this opportunity; if anyone deserves it let him play and let’s support him so that we can have a formidable team for the World Cup and come back with a good result.”

The former Warri Wolves keeper said he would not criticise any player in a bid to make the trip to Russia.

He said, “You don’t have talk me down with stories or lie against me on the pages of newspapers because you need to promote someone.

“I didn’t come this far in my career by a mistake, even though I wasn’t given a chance to get here. But I was positive about myself and I worked hard for it and with God’s grace I reached the level I am today.

“I haven’t reached my mark yet. Yes, I made some mistakes; some of the world’s best goalkeepers have made worst slip-ups, but they didn’t quit because they were criticised and condemned, they fought through it to become the best they are today. I will keep fighting.”

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