The Nigeria international’s switch to Amakhosi caught many by surprise as the Glamour Boys were reported to have been interested in other targets such as Thela Ngobeni and Darren Keet, considering that they are without Itumeleng Khune for the remainder of the season.
However, despite many suggesting that Akpeyi has been signed as a mere backup to Khune once the South Africa international returns to action, Middendorp is adamant that this was not their intention.
With the error-prone Virgil Vries and inexperienced Bruce Bvuma, Khune’s only real competition at the club, Middendorp insists that Akpeyi has been signed as direct competition to the clubs’ No.1.
"Chiefs' management had a very clear profile, not to bring someone in that would be in competition for second or third choice, we have enough in this department,” the German-born mentor told reporters.
"It was a very clear understanding, already looking into next season, to have two top number one keepers,” he added.
Akpeyi certainly didn’t have to wait long to get his first taste of competitive action at his new club.
With Vries coming under fire for several costly mistakes, Middendorp took no chances as the experienced Nigerian was thrown right into the deep end, making his debut in arguably South African football’s biggest encounter, the Soweto Derby.
While Akpeyi was breached late on as the match ended in a 1-1 stalemate, his performance on the day vindicated his transfer, according to the former Maritzburg United coach.
"Judging from what we've seen from Daniel in this short period and carrying such expectations in a Derby with a massive crowd, to show the calmness and structure despite not being fully familiar with the team, he handled it very well,” Middendorp explained.
"We definitely got confirmation that Kaizer Chiefs, from the management's side, made the right decision to bring him in," he concluded.