DURBAN – Nigeria international and Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi has opened up about how he felt during the spate of xenophobic attacks that rocked the country.
Shops belonging to foreign nationals were looted and some set alight in certain parts of Joburg during the xenophobic attacks that also entered the football arena.
Two Bafana Bafana opponents, Zambia and Madagascar, refused to play South Africa due to what its citizens were doing to foreign nationals.
“To be honest with you, I was a bit worried because I understand that I am not the best of what the fans love,” Akpeyi said.
“I am sorry to say that. It always gets to me when I have to play, I tell myself, ‘Danny you just have to do well because at the end of the day, they might turn against you even when it’s supposed to be a normal football game’.
“But at the end of the day, because of our crazy mentality, things might just turn around. It is what it is; at the end of the day, I just have to make up my mind and put my feet down.”
Akpeyi produced a Man of the Match performance on Saturday in the 1-0 Premiership victory over Baroka FC at FNB Stadium.
The Nigerian had started the match on the bench, and was only called when Itumeleng Khune sustained an injury.
Akpeyi will start in goal tonight in Chiefs’ match against Golden Arrows at FNB Stadium.
“Like what we did against Baroka, picking up three points, that’s what we should do,” Akpeyi said. “I don’t really care about playing beautiful football, we need three points to stay on top of the league because, even before I joined the team, there has been a long cup drought.
“It has been a good start for us, we don’t want to drop it, we just want to keep the momentum going,” he added.
Akpeyi’s relationship with Chiefs fans is fragile but the goalkeeper has the backing of his coach Ernst Middendorp, who said that he doesn’t know what to say to people who doubt his talent, having helped the team a number of times whenever he is given a chance.
It’s not just the Chiefs fans that Akpeyi has a rocky relationship with, as the same can be said for his countrymen when he dons the Super Eagles jersey.
Akpeyi hasn’t been a part of the Nigerian national team since the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, where he was heavily criticised. Regardless of the criticism, he has been to a number of major competitions with the Super Eagles, which speaks volumes of his talent.
“I am not really looking at being motivated to be called up to the national team or something,” Akpeyi said.
“I am just working on myself and my career. If I get a call-up, fine. I have played my part in the national team, I have been to the World Cup and the Nations Cup. I believe that I have played my part.”