“There was this debate over who would play and who would not play because Itu is back and all that,” Akpeyi told ESPN.
“I respect Itu because he has paid his dues. So if he has a whole lot of supporters backing him to play, he deserves it 100%.
“Again, I am not fighting for a position with anybody, but sometimes the fans do not understand the dynamics of football and they believed that since Itu was back, whether I am playing or not, the coach should just throw him back into the team.
“But the coach is that kind of person who sticks to his instincts and doesn’t get swayed by anybody’s decision. He just stood his ground.”
Akpeyi added: “After Itu came back he was playing cup games to get his match fitness back. So the coach made it clear that he should go on playing cup games while I should continue with the league.
“The atmosphere wasn’t too conducive but I had to be mentally strong because I understand even some club legends wanted him to play.
“But the coach stood his ground and gave me the nod. So I made up my mind to go into the game to prove a point that we wanted to win the derby, and Akpeyi is not the Daniel Akpeyi they think. So I had a point to prove and I just had to make sure I don’t disappoint the coach and the people who believed in me.”