Contrary to the popular belief that he’s threatened by Itumeleng Khune’s availability for selection, Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi says the team is unsettled by the recent injury setback suffered by the club’s No 1.
It’s been a bright start to the new Premiership campaign for Chiefs, with the team comfortably sitting at the top of the standings with 19 points after eight matches, their only blemishes having been a draw and loss to SuperSport United and Polokwane City respectively.
A chunk of that resurgence is due to starting the term with a clean bill of health, despite goalkeeper and captain Khune having had to observe from the bench in the first five matches.
Following over six months on the side-lines, Khune finally took the field on match-day six of the league season, keeping a clean sheet as Amakhosi defeated AmaZulu 2-0 away from home.
In his second match against Baroka, the Bafana Bafana international left the field in the first half via a stretcher after suffering another injury.
The Nigerian international, Akpeyi, has since replaced Khune, ending the game against Bakgaga and Golden Arrows with clean sheets as Chiefs bagged all six points.
However, it appears the more game-time Akpeyi gets, the more confidence he garners, especially having once said “no-one can take away the No 1 spot from Khune”.
“I am not competing with anyone, only with myself to be the best that I can be and to make sure that when I am given an opportunity, I do my best and solidify my own ground,” Akpeyi said.
A number of Chiefs supporters still have doubts about Akpeyi being the No 1 currently, especially following blunders last season and having joined the club without much credibility from his stint with Chippa United.
“It’s quite sensitive but for now, I have to do what I have to do so that I can keep my mental stability,” Akpeyi said.
“I don’t have to look at what goes or comes around but I have to put in my best as much as I can.
“Supporters will always be supporters; they might like you and they might not. But it’s always about you.”
The drive to only prove it to himself that he can be the best he dares to be, has seen Akpeyi keep three clean sheets in six matches so far this season. And that’s why he indicates that having a competitor such as Khune can help him to grow.
“Concerning Itu, I don’t know about him being out for two months, but we need him back as soon as possible,” he said.
“We need the backline to solidify and it doesn’t have to be with one person (the goalkeeper), but so that in case we need his experience and his character behind as well.”
With no domestic football this weekend due to the Fifa break, Chiefs will be out to keep their fitness levels high when they clash with Mamelodi Sundowns in the 2019 Shell Helix Ultra Cup at FNB Stadium tomorrow (3pm).
“We are not going to that game looking at it as a friendly.
"No matter how little a trophy is, you want the winning feeling moving onto the bigger stage,” Akpeyi said.
Chiefs will also clash with Bloemfontein Celtic in the Macufe Cup on Sunday, wrapping up their preparations for their Telkom Knockout quarter-final clash away to Cape Town City next weekend.