Daniel Akpeyi, Nigerian football goalkeeper, says the Super Eagles round of 16 opponent, Cameroon, will be out to take avenge the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification defeat on the team.
In an interview with TheCable, the Kaizer Chief of South Africa shot stopper said it will be an uphill task for the Eagles to overcome the defending champion on Saturday at the Alexandria stadium.
He, however, said the three-time African champions will play with determination in order to emerge the best side in the knock-out phase.
Nigeria finished second from group B behind Madagascar following a stunning 2-0 defeat on Sunday.
The Eagles last defeated Cameroon at the AFCON about fifteen years ago — and that was in the quarterfinals in Tunisia.
What is it like to be part of the 2019 AFCON Super Eagles team?
It’s a dream come true for any African soccer player to participate at the AFCON, AFCON is the biggest soccer tournament in Africa and for any African player to participate in the tournament, it’s a huge privilege. Among all the best players in all the countries, to be selected among the 23 means the player is doing well for himself. Although, we have three players who featured in the 2013 edition, the squad that won Nigeria last AFCON title. The players bring experience to the current team, and for me personally, I’m grateful to the coach (Rohr) for his belief in me against all odds, for this opportunity to be part of the team in Egypt. The experience has been huge for me, two games and two clean sheets, kudos to my teammates for all the hard work. The tournament has been interesting, we have seen debutants shocking the regulars, the AFCON memories will live with me and my teammates for a long time.
What are your views on the game against Madagascar?
We have put the defeat against Madagascar behind us, we are looking towards the next game and our concentration is on the future and not the past. The next game is important to us, we have been able to fix up the mistakes against Madagascar. Sometimes, it’s good to taste defeat, the result change a lot for us. We are working as a team and individually we are also pushing ourselves. We need to strengthen our spirit to overcome Cameroon.
How ready is the team for Cameroon?
I don’t think the game against Cameroon is special, it’s like playing against any other country in the tournament, we have seen surprises in this tournament and all the 16 countries that progress deserve same respect. We’ll approach the game with determination, this is a different game compare to the Madagascar game, it’s the knockout phase and the perspective is different. I am optimistic we’ll come out from this game as the better side, we have to beat all our opponents to win the tournament and we welcome the challenge against Cameroon.
What are the chances of Eagles against the defending champions?
We are up against a tough task, our chances are great and recently we have dominated them (Cameroon). We knocked them out from the 2018 World Cup race, and I am sure the result is still fresh in their memories. They will play for revenge, they have a new coach now and the set up will be different. We have to prepare for the game, we have to be strong, mentally and physically to approach the game. I’m confident the best team will come out alive and we want to be the best team in the game.
What is your opinion on Eagles group game performance?
We have achieved our group stage target, reaching the next round of the tournament. We understand the situation now, the stake is high and huge. We’ll come out better in this game compare to our previous games, the feeling is mutual among the squad and the communication is positive.