Goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi stood in goal for Nigeria during their 1-1 draw with South Africa on Sunday in Nelspruit, and he performed admirably, keeping out a determined Bafana attack with many good saves.
The player was able to get a start for the Super Eagles due to a back injury suffered by usual number one, Vincent Enyeama, who earned his 100th cap for Nigeria in their 1-0 loss to Uganda last week.
Speaking about Enyeama, Akpeyi had words of praise and gratitude, thanking the experienced shot-stopper for the influence that he has had in his career.
“Enyeama has been a big brother and role model who has been with me through thick and thin. Enyeama has been encouraging and supportive, ever ready to remind me that ups and downs in life are quite natural but something that can spur one on to a higher height,” Akpeyi said to SuperSport.
“He always tell me to look ahead in the face of being picked and dropped, saying that he himself faced a similar fate at some points in his career. I learnt a lot from him and I’ll always remain eternally grateful for his positive touch on my career,” he added.
Akpeyi also wished to thank Super Eagles goalkeeper coach Ike Shorunmu and stand-in tactician for the national team, Daniel Amokachi.
“The same encouragement and support were given to me by Shorunmu. Shorunmu will always tell me not to lose faith but keep my head up no matter what,” he said.
“Coach Amokachi has been wonderful too, especially handing me the starting shirt against South Africa in Nelspruit. I thank him for the confidence he reposed in me in such a crucial match.
“I understand that I’m not there yet but will work harder to justify future opportunities that may come my way,” he revealed.