South Africa-based goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi was on Wednesday given the chance to resurrect his international career after being invited by Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr to replace the Super Eagles’ first-choice goalkeeper Carl Ikeme ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Algeria.
Rohr was forced to invite Chippa United keeper, who he had omitted from his 24-man squad for the crucial encounter against the Desert Foxes in Uyo on November 12, after Wolverhampton Wanderers withdrew their number keeper Ikeme from the clash following an injury.
The 30-year-old, who was born in England, was taken off at half-time after he was injured during Wolves’ 1-1 against Blackburn Rovers in their Championship game at Ewood Park on Saturday.
Spokesman for the Nigeria Football Federation Ademola Olajire confirmed Rio 2016 Olympic Games bronze medallist Akpeyi had been invited by Rohr to take Ikeme’s place in the squad for the Uyo clash. Akpeyi was not invited for the World Cup qualifier against Zambia, which Nigeria won 2-1 on October 9.
“The former junior international (Akpeyi) is a direct replacement for Ikeme, whose English club Wolverhampton Wanderers wrote to the NFF, saying he would be unavailable as a result of his injury,” Olajire said.
And former Nigeria keeper Ike Shorunmu has backed Rohr’s decision to invite Akpeyi, saying the 30-year-old former Warri Wolves custodian “can do the job well”.
Shorunmu, who represented Nigeria at the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup after winning silver at the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations, urged Rohr to start Akpeyi in goal against Algeria.
“It’s unfortunate that Ikeme will not be available for the match,” the former Besiktas star told our correspondent on the telephone on Wednesday.
“He’s our number one keeper and it’s not easy to play a big match without your number one keeper.
“I’m happy that the coach has invited Akpeyi, who is also a very good keeper – and experienced. He can do the job well.
“I believe he can replicate the form that earned him a lot of praise after our match (Gabon 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier) against Egypt in Alexandria.”
The former Nigeria goalkeeping coach added, “Dele Alampasu is not ready yet for this level (World Cup qualifier) and we shouldn’t put ourselves under pressure by using a young keeper for the game.”
Meanwhile, the Desert Foxes have been dealt a huge blow after the Algerian Football Federation confirmed Bordeaux forward Adam Ounas will miss the game following an injury.
The federation said on their official website the French-born teenager, who switched his international allegiance to Algeria recently, was injured in a French Ligue 1 game on Saturday and would not make the trip to Nigeria.
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