FILE - Daniel Akpeyi of Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
FILE - Daniel Akpeyi of Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Daniel Akpeyi determined to break trophy jinx with Kaizer Chiefs in CAF Champions league final

By Herman Gibbs Time of article published Jul 8, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - NIGERIAN goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi may be one of three players in the Kaizer Chiefs squad that have had the privilege of playing in a CAF Champions League final - but the only one not to have won it.

The other two Chiefs players - both formerly of Mamelodi Sundowns who have Champions League winners' medals are Zimbabwean Khama Billiat and Colombian Leonardo Castro.

These two marksmen formed a potent combination with midfielder Keagan Dolly in the fearsome ‘CBD' triumvirate, who left opponents powerless in Sundowns' slipstream.

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Akpeyi, the 18-time capped Super Eagles goalkeeper, was a member of the Heartland FC, a Nigerian side that played and lost to Congolese club TP Mazembe in the 2009 two-legged final.

Now 12 years later, Akpeyi again has a rare chance to play in a final. He also points out that Chiefs have waited over half a century for this to happen.

“Looking back in history, one can see that it has taken Chiefs more than half a century to reach a Champions League final,” said Akpeyi.

ALSO READ: Kaizer Chiefs have reason to fancy chances against Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly

“The achievement of playing in a CAF Champions League final has brought the smiles back to supporters who have been patient all these years.

“I have always looked forward to playing the final again.

“I have tried with different teams which were eliminated in the early stages. Now, with hard work and determination, we are in the final again. I am grateful for this moment.”

Akpeyi was for some time Chiefs' second choice goalmouth custodian behind Itumeleng Khune, but once he forced his way into the starting line-up, he delivered several first-class performances.

ALSO READ: Kaizer Chiefs have quality to win Africa’s biggest prize, says former coach Muhsin Ertugral

In all six Champions League matches he played this season, he came away with clean sheets. He has now gone a total of 491 minutes without conceding a goal in the CAF blue-ribband club competition.

“Being in the CAF Champions League final, and even winning it, is my biggest dream. The Champions League is the biggest in Africa, and every player wants to be there. I cannot explain the feeling.

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“Hopefully, we will be crowned with the glory of the trophy.

“It has been an interesting and exciting journey. One of my dreams in my career was to play in the Champions League final and win it.

“The last time I was in the final was in 2009 with one of my previous teams, and we lost to TP Mazembe.”

Akpeyi was also mindful of Chief's long-suffering supporters who have not celebrated a trophy triumph in six years. “I must applaud the fans for their patience over all these years,” said Akpeyi.

@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport

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