Kaizer Chiefs’ Manyama: Give Daniel Akpeyi the credit he deserves

Lebogang Manyama of Kaizer Chiefs celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Absa Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Baroka FC at FNB Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Lebogang Manyama of Kaizer Chiefs celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Absa Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Baroka FC at FNB Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Kaizer Chiefs’ influential midfielder Lebogang Manyama has praised the club’s Nigerian goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi for taking no time in silencing his critics showing he can fill the “big shoes” of injured long-time No 1 Itumeleng Khune.

Ahead of the Soweto derby against bitter rivals Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium on Saturday‚ Manyama admitted Akpeyi has played a big role in ensuring that Chiefs are on top of the Absa Premiership table going into the Soweto derby.

In 10 league matches Chiefs have proved to be one of the stingiest of defences‚ only letting in five goals against that the 16 that they have scored to open a seven-point gap on their closest rivals Mamelodi Sundowns.

Manyama‚ whose team have to break an 11-match winless run in the league against Pirates on Saturday‚ said that Akpeyi has been given little of the credit that he deserves in stabilising Chiefs’ defence.

“I think we had this conversation before the season started and I think we’re blessed in that department‚” Manyama said.

“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.”

Manyama feels Akpeyi should have been given more respect based on the fact he’s Nigeria’s No 1and was the man in goals most of the time when the Super Eagles finished third in the Nations in Egypt in June-July‚ including a 2-1 quarterfinal against Bafana Bafana.

“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.”

On Saturday’s derby‚ Manyama said Chiefs can’t afford to take their foot off the accelerator.

The midfielder was man-of-the-match when Chiefs booted Pirates out of the Telkom Knockout in Durban last week and has contributed with three goals in the league.

“It’s another six-pointer‚” Manyama said.

“You try to get the three points and try to get away from whoever is behind you going to the international break.

“It’s obviously a tough one and a big one against a very arrogant team.

“Not arrogant in a bad way. But they want to control things in all the games that they play.

“You can see that they’re playing good football but we’ve got our plan. So ja‚ I think we’re ready at the moment and hopefully the results will favour us.”

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