Despite being the object of blunt jokes, social media trolls and harsh criticisms from fans and foes alike for several months, goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi bore them all bravely and has excelled for Kaizer Chiefs still, and, according to teammate Lebogang Manyama, is fully deserving of all the applause presently coming his way.
Kaizer Chiefs influential midfielder, Manyama, has admitted ahead of the Soweto derby against bitter rivals Orlando Pirates‚ that the Super Eagles goalkeeper is one of the key reasons why Chiefs are on top of the Absa Premiership table going into the Soweto derby, boasting one of the stingiest defences in the league.
“I think we had this conversation before the season started and I think we’re blessed in that department (goalkeeping)‚” Manyama said as monitored by Soccernet.ng.
“We have three international goalkeepers [Daniel Akpeyi‚ Itumeleng Khune and Bruce Bvuma] – two of them coming from the Africa Cup of Nations.
“It’s huge experience. Akpeyi is a top keeper and I think maybe people have been too hard on him‚ and obviously he had to fill Itu’s shoes‚ which is not an easy thing to do.”
“But ja‚ if he was No 1 for one of the biggest countries in Africa in terms of football it’s not a coincidence‚” Manyama continued.
“It’s because he has quality to play in such a team in such a country that we believe in him and we kept on supporting him. He has helped us a lot and I think we’re very blessed to have him.”
Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp had also earlier praised the goaltender for showing his true quality in the face of unwarranted criticisms.
“He is a grown up and has always performed‚” said Middendorp.
“He just came in to help the club because of the issue of Itu Khune being injured and that was all.
“Don’t forget it is qualified work that is being done by goalkeeper coach Lee Baxter‚” Middendorp said.
“It is the result of having a qualified goalkeeper coach and he has helped him to be able to deal with the outside drama that met his arrival in January and February.
“But as I said‚ he is grown up.
“He is experienced and he has been to the (Fifa) World Cup with lots of experience.
“He is definitely doing well‚ he is performing and that is something special.”
Daniel Akpeyi is back in the Super Eagles squad set to face Benin and Lesotho in the forthcoming AFCON 2019 qualifiers slated for next week.