Kaizer Chiefs’ goalkeeper coach Lee Baxter is likely to have his work cut out for him in getting Daniel Akpeyi back into the right frame of mind again, after the Nigerian made a horrendous mistake that led to Maritzburg United’s first goal in a 2-1 Absa Premiership defeat on Saturday.
Akpeyi fumbled what looked to be an easy catch with the ball then falling kindly for Tebogo Tholane who crossed it for Daylon Classen to slot into an empty net. Even in the second goal, Akpeyi looked lost and was caught off guard.
Soon after the first goal, the Amakhosi supporters shouted “Khune, Khune” as they called for a change of keepers. But Amakhosi coach Ernst Middendorp said it was the decision of the goalkeeping coaching staff to continue using Akpeyi and said it was unfair to point fingers when the team has not got a result because “we win together and we lose together”.
Akpeyi quickly disappeared to the change room after the game leaving behind his team-mates who were going around the stadium thanking their supporters who came out in numbers.
“I know it’s something where the entire (crowd) is looking at it (saying) ‘this one must play, this one must play’. Are you really, really…convinced that our goalkeeping coaching department are unable to see what’s going on, to see what’s happening and to see when it is the right time? Are you really thinking we just do because whatever?,” said the 61-year-old German mentor.
He then suggested that Khune may not be fully fit to play 90 minutes, saying it was their job to make sure that every player is fully fit and ready to play before being thrown in to avoid injury problems.
“There was a player thrown in – I said it in October – thrown in too early and what happened? He was out for three to four months again. Even today there was a clear idea about Khama Billiat to play him for 60 minutes.
“But he was excited and stayed 90 minutes. It was a high risk. We have to look at it individually and how far the players are prepared to play from week to week,” he explained.
With Akpeyi’s costly error looming large over the Amakhosi dressing room, it will be interesting to see who Middendorp goes with in the Nedbank Cup second round match against Highlands Park on Saturday.