By Richard Jideaka, Abuja:
Nigeria's Olympic footbal team first choice goalkeeper, Emmanuel Daniel, has revealed that the inclusion of Super Eagles goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi as an overage member of the squad to the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil brought out the best in him.
The Enugu Rangers goal tender told Complete Sports soon after arrival from the games in which the Olympic Eagles won Nigeria's solitary bronze medal that he took Akpeyi's invitation to the team as a big challenge and worked hard to retain his place in the team as the number one goalkeeper .
"When coach Samson Siasia included Daniel Akpeyi as one of the overage players for the games, I knew my position as number one was threatened so I decided to raise my game and see if my coaches would retain me," Daniel told Completesportsnigeria.com.
"At the pre-Olympic Games camp and training tour, I worked so hard to prove my worth and remain relevant in the team
"At the end of the day, my hard work paid off and the coaches retained me as number one for the games. But it is all thanks to Akpeyi whose presence in the team inspired me to fight for my place. He was also very helpful with tips and advice he gave me before games and even in training. I learnt a lot from and I appreciate him for everything."
Daniel played five of the team's games in Brazil, while Akpeyi played against Colombia after the Nigerians had already secured passage into the quarter-finals.
On his invitation to the Super Eagles, Daniel expressed gratitude to national team coaches for considering him fit for the senior team, adding that it goes to show that his performance in Brazil was worthy of appreciation. He said that he would continue to work hard in training in order not to disappoint all those who believe in him.
He said qualifying for the World Cup will is a task that every player must work towards, stressing that having failed to qualify for the AFCON, " it will be unthinkable and a disaster for the Super Eagles to miss out of the World Cup in Russia."