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Derby delight for Amakhosi

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Chiefs will surely only have themselves to blame should they not win the championship.

THE 50th Anniversary celebrations remain on track. Kaizer Chiefs are closer to a rare Absa Premiership title thanks to their victory over Orlando Pirates at the weekend.

The 1-0 win means Amakhosi completed the league double on their bitter rivals who they also sent packing out of the Telkom Knockout earlier in the season.

Now sitting pretty in the top spot that they have occupied throughout the season with just nine matches to go, Chiefs will surely only have themselves to blame should they not win the championship.

There were three key aspects that we picked up from their victory.

1. DANIEL AKPEYI IS

MADE OF TOUGH STUFF

The Nigerian goalkeeper’s Man of the Match performance was incredible given the harsh criticism he came in for following his error in the defeat by Maritzburg United a fortnight ago.

He was rested for the cup clash against Highlands Park and it was a toss up as to who between him and Itumeleng Khune would play in the derby.

He got the nod and boy did he serve large helpings of humble pie to his detractors.

Akpeyi pulled off some incredible saves – that block to deny Gabadinho Mhango early on the game, the triple safe as Pirates searched for the equaliser late in the game as well as that stop against Thembinkosi Lorch – to remind everyone that he was a big role player in Chiefs’ brilliant season so far.

A single mistake does not make a good goalkeeper bad and this much Akpeyi proved.

2. MANYAMA IS

STILL THE KINGPIN

A PSL Footballer of the Year as well as winner of the Golden Boot when he played at Cape Town City, Manyama has matured with age and his important role at Chiefs cannot be ignored.

But there were some who felt the man from Alexandra has been reduced to a set-piece specialist whose individual brilliance had waned. Well, that fantastic goal he scored showed the man still has the magic in abundance – Manyama making a fantastic solo run that he finished off with a sweetly struck grass-cutting shot that Wayne Sandilands had no chance to stop.

And it turned out to be a winner that could go a long way towards ensuring the title goes to Naturena.

3. MIDDENDORP

HAS DERBY MAGIC

The German coach is hard to like and even Amakhosi fans find him a tad insufferable. But he has yet to lose a Soweto Derby in all his spells at Chiefs.

The last man to deliver the league title to Naturena back in 2014/15, Middendorp always seems to have the tactical nous to outdo the Buccaneers.

Going into the weekend’s match, he was under some pressure as Chiefs had lost their last two matches. But he calmly went about the business of preparing for the match and his ploy to allow Pirates all the possession while waiting to punish them at the most opportune time worked like magic.

The choice of Akpeyi as the goalkeeper surprised many, but it proved to be a masterstroke.