Akpeyi is very important to Super Eagles – Jay Jay

As he delights in Nigeria’s opening AFCON 2021 victory over Egypt, Super Eagles legend Augustine ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha has hailed the importance of Amakhosi shot stopper Daniel Akpeyi to the Nigerian squad.

“Daniel is a very important player for the squad. He only lost his place through injury and it shows how strong the whole squad is, because once you miss out because of injury it is always difficult to get back for a goalkeeper. We believe we have a great squad and we have people like Daniel we can rely on if needed,” Okocha exclusively told www.kaizerchiefs.com.

The African footballing icon won the 1994 African Cup of Nations with Nigeria and reached at least the semifinals in all five of the AFCON tournaments he appeared in.

Having played with two of Nigeria’s best goalkeepers of their generation, Peter Rufai and Vincent Enyeama, Okocha believes the current competition amongst the goalkeepers in the squad for the number spot will benefit the team.

Akpeyi competes for a starting spot alongside incumbent Maduka Okoye, as well as Francsi Uzoho and John Noble Barinyima.

“It is a plus for us as the keeper’s role is very important. And it is important to have someone you can rely on if your defence is breached. I am happy that we have a happy competition in our goalkeeping department and it is a plus for any coach,” says Okocha.

Nigeria are sitting pretty after opening up their 2021 AFCON campaign with a 1-0 win over Egypt in Group D on Tuesday.

“I am delighted and happy because we need to start these kinds of tournaments on a good note. We played really really well. The whole squad showed that we are well prepared. Every player in the squad is important. The ones who came in took over from those who started. It was a fantastic game for us,” said the former Super Eagle captain.

While Nigeria were thought to have come into the competition threadbare up front, Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho scored the game’s only goal in their first game up.

Okocha believes it bodes well for Nigeria that they picked up three points against a fellow tournament favourite.

“It’s always important to show your intentions coming up against one of the favourites. It was the first game and it was important that we started on a good note,” says Okocha.

Nigeria will continue their quest for their first AFCON title since lifting the trophy at the FNB Stadium in 2013 with their second game in Group D against Sudan in Garoua on Saturday.

Jay Jay is in South Africa working as an analyst for SuperSport, who are showing all the games live from the 33rd AFCON in Cameroon.