Super Eagles goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi was practically denied opportunity to smile Saturday July 17,2021 at the Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca, Morocco.
The Nigerian international who plies his trade with Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa arrived the Moroccan economic capital with teammates full of hope and determined to put in his best to win the CAF Champions league and by so doing crown a good run to the final which pitched them against Egyptian giants and ‘traditional winners’ if you like Al Ahly.
That the former Chippa United safehand is good at his job is to put it mildly or how do you explain that Coach decided to pick him to man the post against Al Ahly who had compatriot Junior Ajayi on parade and with eyes fixed on winning the title for the 10th time.
Of course Akpeyi who joined Chiefs in 2019 began well until the kitchen became too hot following pressures mounted by coach Pitso Mosimane led Al Ahly.
Chiefs were forced to play second half with 10 men after Happy Mashiane was sent off right at the stroke of half time and you can imagine what it could mean playing a side like Al Ahly with a man down.
The opening period was competitive in the middle of the park and chances were far and few in between. Samir Nurkovic had a chance for the South African side with a curling shot in the 16th minute which flew straight to the keeper’s arms, an indication that the Chiefs would have shot into the lead and who knows that would have changed the equation of the game.
Akpeyi all this while had remained solid in his area of jurisdiction.
Amakhosi’s turning point of the game came at the stroke of halftime when Mashiane was sent off for a dangerous studs-up foul on Tawfik Akram. He was initially yellow-carded but upon advice from the Video Assistant Referees, the centre referee went pitch-side to the screen and changed his yellow to red.
Ahly took maximum advantage of the numerical strength in the second half and it took them just eight minutes to break the deadlock. Akram sent Sherif through with a peach of a pass and the forward dinked the ball over an onrushing Daniel Akpeyi.
The Red Devils made it 2-0 in the 64th minute off a quick counter attack when the ball was launched behind the defense. Keeper Akpeyi and defender Eric Mathoho did not decide who was to go for the ball and Mohamed Taher picked up on the left before spraying to Afsha who played a one two with Sherif before slamming the ball into the far left.
Ten minutes later, it was game over for Chiefs as Ahly got their third off another quickly executed play. Sheriff picked the ball at the edge of the box before setting up Elsoulia with a beautiful backheel roll.
Elsoulia picked his spot and curled in a beauty past the keeper to all but seal the title into Ahly’s name. Chiefs made attempts to try and cut out the deficit, but the Egyptians were more settled and dealt with the danger with calmness.
While Chiefs celebrated a 10th Champions League title, head coach Pitso Mosimane was celebrating his third as coach and second with Ahly, having led them to the crown last season.
It was a day Akpeyi and teammates though considered outsiders to the final as first timers. They came they saw they tried by with Pitso Mosimane that had eye on back to back victory and an Al Ahly that was bent on counting number 10 it was apparent it would be hard nut to crack for the Chiefs who will now look forward to next edition to try their luck.