In-form Akpeyi keeping out the great Khune at Chiefs
DURBAN – Daniel Akpeyi - and not Itumeleng Khune - has now emerged as the chief commander in goals for Kaizer Chiefs.
The ever reliable Khune was ruled out for most of last season because of injury. Coach Ernst Middendorp tried different solutions, and Akpeyi raised his hand. Khune also didn’t start the current season, but is now fully fit and ready to go.
Over the years it has been a regular occurrence that when Khune comes back, he takes over from whoever was in goals in his absence, regardless of form.
But it seems things have changed under the tenure of the German tactician. He prefers form instead of reputation.
“Who’s number one this season?” Middendorp angrily snapped back at journalists when he was asked who his preferred starting goal-minder is.
When he was told that it is Akpeyi, the German replied: “No, no, let us not talk about other players. We have our number one goalkeeper (Akpeyi) here, and he is performing week-in and week-out.”
Khune has been the undisputed first-choice goalkeeper for the past decade for both club and country, but injuries have hampered his progress over the last two years.
“He (Akpeyi) is the national goalkeeper with Nigeria, and has done a fantastic job with the Super Eagles finishing position three in the Africa Cup of Nations. We are looking it week by week.
“What performance are we getting (from Akpeyi)? What are you trying to say with your question? You are far, far off the frame,” an irritated Middendorp said.
Bruce Bvuma is currently playing second fiddle to Akpeyi.
Last month, the Nigerian net-minder was chosen as the best player in the league for his impressive exploits.
In the absence of Khune, he has become a pillar of strength for Amakhosi. But some Amakhosi fans are still not convinced that Akpeyi is the club's most reliable man between the goalposts.
They still want Khune to come back and take over the goalkeeper’s jersey, but it doesn’t look like they will experience any joy in that regard.
Middendorp is elated with Akpeyi, who looks set to continue to steer the defence for the Glamour Boys.
Chiefs, of course, are sitting comfortably on top of the log. They are seven points clear of second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns, who are the defending champions and are eyeing a hat-trick of titles.
In addition, Chiefs are desperate to end their barren run. A lack of silverware has haunted them for the past four years.
After 14 league outings, Amakhosi have amassed 35 points and seem to be running away with the league, but anything can still happen.
Chiefs will face SuperSport United on Saturday in their first assignment in the New Year.@Minenhlecr7