Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp appears to be reluctant to take the gloves off of Daniel Akpeyi for the club’s Nedbank Cup round of 32 matches against Royal Eagles.
Many are expecting Kaizer Chiefs to rotate their squad. Still, Middendorp might not want to take a chance against the National First Division side despite having two Bafana Bafana goalkeepers in reserve.
Kaizer Chiefs consider Nedbank Cup changes
Club captain Itumeleng Khune is believed to be fit enough to return to action, but Middendorp says he will not simply be handed a place in the Kaizer Chiefs XI.
Bafana Bafana keeper Bruce Bvuma has not made the 18-man squad for the clash against Royal Eagles with the form of Akpeyi keeping him out of the Chiefs lineup despite the long-term injury woes of Khune.
Khune may get a run out at the FNB Stadium on Saturday (8 February), but Middendorp has made it clear that Akpeyi is the club’s No 1 stopper. The Nigerian recently signed a two-year extension to his contract, committing his future to Naturena and delighting Middendorp.
Middendorp was cagey on exactly how fit for action Khune was, telling the media ahead of the weekend’s Nedbank Cup match that the skipper needs to prove he can get back to his best.
“Daniel Akpeyi signed another two-year contract. Itu Khune is still under contract, where how does he fit in? Age is totally on his side, he got a bit of an injury challenge at the moment,” Middendorp told a Nedbank Cup pre-match press conference.
“Just make him [Khune] fit, a player with his quality we are all happy to have him there, let him work, work on his positive side, on his strong side, make him even better and that’s what it is.”
Middendorp is understandably reluctant to rest his star players in the Nedbank Cup considering the team did not play in the most recent round of Premiership fixtures last weekend.
He feels that players like Apeyi and Samir Nurkovic deserve to start when they are fit to do so because of the performances put in this season.
“The procedure is not very clear because there is a player who was good, fantastic and all of a sudden I must take Samir Nurkovic out and play somebody, I don’t think it is advisable. Daniel Akpeyi played fantastic games, week in, week out over months,” he said.
“We have a respectable team and squad and first selection and sometimes players must wait for their opportunity whenever it is right and that’s it. I had a chat with Bruce Bvuma, we can talk about him because he is a national team player too, what’s his future, how is he seating out.”