Kaizer Chiefs legend, William Shongwe, says the club’s supporters should appreciate their current number one goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and stop comparing him to Itumeleng Khune.
Although underrated in Mzansi, the 33-year-old Akpeyi was named goalkeeper of the year in Nigeria at the inaugural Ballers Awards Ceremony.
Shongwe says that proves the quality the Nigerian international possesses.
“I don’t think he is underrated, it’s the Chiefs fans who’ve got a challenge,” Shongwe tells KickOff.com.
“Chiefs fans are so used to Khune, Khune. Without a doubt he’s class, and he’s kept the team going, and as a result, if this one [Akpeyi] commit errors they are quick to reflect back to their favourite.
“If you are a real football fundi, you will realise and appreciate him. First of all, to keep goals for Chiefs there is a lot of pressure. And Akpeyi went through that pressure at the beginning, he survived it. And he got his groove back, and he started performing like the goalkeeper that they signed you know.
“So me personally I’m happy for him because I have always believed… I mean look at the quality of Nigerian goalkeepers that were there [at AFCON]. For them to choose him ahead of the others…r emember there’s this one who played at the World Cup, the young star. For Akpeyi to get ahead of that one, that said a lot about his ability and his experience.
“As much as we can deny it, the experience has been showing. The quality of Akpeyi has been there for all to see. It’s just that the supporters are spoiled. They don’t want to see anything less than Khune.
“We can only hope that he continues. But what you must know is, there is pressure. Chiefs people, they are not easy to please because of the previous success. That’s why most of these youngsters who come to Chiefs have struggled sometimes to live up to expectations of those that were there before, because the fans are spoiled.
“But another thing that maybe is a bit different… the likes of Akpeyi are people who didn’t grow up in their development with goalkeeper coaches. They were using their own talent you know. He was only exposed to proper goalkeeper coaching when he arrived at Chippa [United], Akpeyi. I’m talking about the basics of goalkeeping.
“These are some of the challenges that are faced with goalkeepers that come from the rest of the continent. You know there are certain basics that you build the positions from when you are training a goalkeeper.
“These ones, that’s why you’ve got to appreciate them so much more, because they didn’t have all these privileges of being coached, and yet they are such quality. And with the little bit of coaching they are getting now, even if it’s a little bit late, they can only get so much better.
“There’s very little I can give him [in terms of advice] because you know what, he is very strong-minded, he’s got a very strong personality. Another goalkeeper would have crumbled under this pressure that he has been going through. But he didn’t.
“For me, it’s a pressure position, that you must admit if you are going to be a goalkeeper. You will be blamed for things that you are not even responsible for. You are a scapegoat you know.
“At this point where you even have to fill up the shoes of Khune, even more pressure. But he’s proved to be a very strong individual, and I think that is what has actually helped him survive. Others would have crashed.”