Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr says he won’t blame goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi for the team’s 2-0 defeat to Bafana Bafana in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo on Saturday.
Tokelo Rantie’s 54th minute near post header past the South Africa-based Akpeyi and Percy Tau’s effort, who beat the offside trap, rounded the keeper outside the box before racing to slot home, sealed a memorable win for the visitors.
It was the first time the Eagles would lose a competitive game to their opponents and Rohr insists the entire team and not Akpeyi should take the blame for the defeat.
“I won’t blame the keeper for the defeat, we lose as a team. The first goal, a header came from the right, through a cross from the South African right-back. The second had our keeper beaten from outside the box but we should have had a man marking the scorer. The whole team lost, I can’t blame a single player.”
Rohr added that his players exhausted their energy in the first half of the match. He said his young players made so many moves to score goals in the first half, but were overpowered by the experienced South African team in the second half.
He said, “We had difficulties in finishing the match because we made so many efforts in the first half while some of our players were tired in the second half. We tried to open the wings and bring power to the team but unfortunately it did not yield fruits.
“I have trust in these boys because they played well in the first half but they could not score. We win and lose together. I think the next game with Cameroun will be very interesting. It will be better, much better.”
Meanwhile, South African coach, Staurt Baxter, said his plan to ensure that the home team did not score in the first 20 minutes of the game worked.
He said “We opened up the game in the first half but unfortunately we did not score. Beating Nigeria is very interesting. Nigeria are a very good side but my boys prevented them from scoring. We are trying to develop our boys and expose them.”
The Eagles now walk a tight rope as the result places them in third position in Group E of the AFCON qualifiers for Cameroon 2019. Leaders Libya had on Friday defeated Seychelles 5-1 while Bafana and Seychelles are second and fourth respectively