Middendorp refuses to be pressured into choosing between Khune and Akpeyi

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp in a discussion with club football manager Bobby Motaung after the match.
Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp in a discussion with club football manager Bobby Motaung after the match.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Ernst Middendorp has suggested he will not be swayed by media headlines on his decision of who to play at goalkeeper for Kaizer Chiefs between Itumeleng Khune and Daniel Akpeyi.

Bafana Bafana No 1 and long-time Chiefs favourite Khune’s return from injury has posed a selection poser for Amakhosi coach Middendorp‚ which was compounded by a costly error from Akpeyi in the Soweto giants’ 2-1 Absa Premiership defeat to Maritzburg United on Saturday.

A minute after Lebogang Manyama missed a sitter in front of goal‚ while at the other end Akpeyi came far off his line and attempted to control Pogiso Sanoka’s cross one-handed‚ spilling to United forward Thabiso Kutumela.

This led to Tebogo Tlolane’s cross and Daylon Claasen volleying Maritzburg ahead into an open goal in the 65th minute.

Claasen headed a second two minutes later‚ a bombshell brace that‚ while it was reduced by Samir Nurkovic’s strike in the 77th‚ appeared to expose fragility in Amakhosi’s Absa Premiership lead.

Khune had made a return‚ and just third match of the season‚ from long-term shoulder injury in Amakhosi’s 1-0 Nedbank Cup win against First Division Royal Eagles in Amakhosi’s previous game.

Middendorp finds himself under pressure‚ now‚ to field Khune in Saturday’s Nedbank last-16 clash against Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium‚ ahead of Akpeyi‚ who‚ despite recent form has had a reputation for costly errors.

“Do you really think that our goalkeeping department are not able to see what is happening‚ to see when is the right timing?” Middendorp queried after the defeat to Maritzburg‚ annoyed at a question over whether he might consider bringing Khune back.

“Are you really thinking we just do because of whatever?

“There was a player [Khune]‚ he has been thrown in‚ and I said it in October that it was too early. And what happened – out for three‚ four months again.

“Even [against Maritzburg] if it was a very clear plan to play Khama Billiat for 60 minutes. But‚ OK‚ then he was quite excited‚ he stayed 90 minutes in the game.

“It’s a high risk. We really have to look into it – individually‚ how far players are to play 90 minutes week in‚ week out.

“I see the headlines already‚ of course. You don’t have to be a magic one to see what the headlines will be.

“It makes it not easy for the entire goalkeeping department.”

Another question mark for Chiefs is whether Saturday’s defeat – coming just after defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns beat Chippa United 3-0 in Pretoria – exposed cracks in an inexperienced squad’s attempt to reverse four seasons without a trophy in their 50th anniversary campaign.


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