The Super Eagles goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi has accepted full responsibility for Riyad Mahrez goal which knocked Nigeria out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations.
The Kaizer Chief’s star was made the scapegoat after the Man City star curled a free kick with the two teams seemingly settled for an extra time after playing a 1-1 draw for better part of the encounter.
Akpeyi, in an interview with ESPN, took the full blame for the goal but was quick to point out that he has been a soft target for the fans despite making a lot of match winning saves for the team in the past.
“My coaches always say that if the position of the set play is very close. he will probably have 20% chance of scoring on the other side. So I should have shifted a little.
“But not to take anything away from Mahrez; he has scored such free-kicks before at his club against great goalkeepers. But we won’t say that we won’t learn from our mistakes and others’ mistakes.
“I take the blame for everything because it is what it is. As a goalkeeper, they won’t look at what you have done before. I remember they had a couple of chances in the first half that I made one-on-one saves. But those ones won’t count in people’s eyes. Because no matter how much a goalkeeper saves, it is the one mistake he makes that people remember.
“At the end of the day, the people that tried to put you down will rejoin over this. So be a professional, take it, learn from it, and go on. So when I got all that backlash, as a human, you will feel it; but I laughed at it and shook it off.
“Imagine that a week later, he scored a similar goal in his club and the world did not come down.
“But because it is Akpeyi, it was very easy for the bell to ring in people’s mind that Akpeyi is this, Akpeyi is that,” Akpeyi lamented.
Akpeyi also expressed shock that one of his European-based team mate singled him out for blame and even went to the extent of wishing he (Akpeyi) is not invited back to the team.
“When we got to the hotel, I overheard one of my teammates in the other room telling somebody on the phone ‘I don’t think he should be invited to the national team again; how can he concede that kind of goal.’
“My own team mate!
“He was just outside the room next to mine and talking. This is a professional footballer who plays in Europe.
“But I thank God, because it is by His Grace that I am here,” he concluded.