Chiefs' place in the Champions League final sends a message to the continent‚ says Akpeyi
Daniel Akpeyi says Mamelodi Sundowns setting the bar winning the 2016 Caf Champions League and Kaizer Chiefs following up by reaching the 2020-21 final sends a message to Africa of the progress of SA’s DStv Premiership.
Chiefs‚ the shock package of the competition having previously never reached the group stages‚ meet Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly in the final at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca‚ Morocco, on Saturday‚ July 17.
Amakhosi’s goalkeepers were crucial in Chiefs getting there. Bruce Bvuma was man-of-the-match as Chiefs beat Wydad Athletic 1-0 away at Stade Mohamed V in the first leg of their semifinal. When Bvuma missed the second leg after coming into contact with someone with Covid-19‚ Akpeyi starred in the 0-0 draw at FNB Stadium.
The Nigeria No.1 said Sundowns’ triumph‚ followed by Chiefs’ unexpected progression to the final‚ will continue to alert the continent of the PSL as an emerging force as a top league in Africa. Orlando Pirates paved the way for Sundowns and Chiefs, ending a long barren spell for SA clubs reaching the 2013 final.
“This is actually massive progress to the South African league and to the South African teams‚” Akpeyi said.
“Sundowns have raised the bar by winning the Champions League‚ and now it’s Kaizer Chiefs in the final. This shows how much progress the league has been able to make for some time now.
“And to the South African people I’m sure everyone is excited because Kaizer Chiefs are one of the darling teams in SA. So this actually is more like a happy moment for every South African citizen to see the team get to this stage‚ and to see the team winning the trophy.
“So I’m sure right now in South Africa everyone is waiting for the 17th of this month‚ and also waiting for Kaizer Chiefs to come back with the trophy.”
Akpeyi admitted Chiefs will again be the rank underdogs against defending and nine-time champions Ahly.
“From history I’m sure that everyone knows Al Ahly to be a very tough side. It’s a team that you need to focus 120 percent against in the 94th minute‚” the keeper said.
“So it’s not going to be an easy day. But I’m sure that’s the reason why we are preparing early‚ and the in camp working out strategies and structures‚ and plans on how to face this huge game.
“It’s a game of being focused and each team taking their opportunity when it comes.
“Looking at the history of Ahly again‚ you realise they have won a lot in the Champions League‚ and they are experienced.
“So we are coming as the underdogs. We respect them. But at the same time we’ll be coming with our A game.”
Ahly dispatched of Esperance de Tunis 4-0 on aggregate in their semifinal.