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Daniel Akpeyi v Virgil Vries: Discussing Kaizer Chiefs' goalkeeping conundrum ahead of the Soweto Derby

12:44 PM GMT+4 07/02/2019
Ernst Middendorp, Kaizer Chiefs, December 2018
Amakhosi go into this Soweto Derby without their experienced keeper Khune, and Middendorp has to choose between Vries and Akpeyi

With the 166th Soweto Derby upon us, Kaizer Chiefs face a goalkeeping conundrum as they prepare to take on arch-rivals Orlando Pirates.

What makes this encounter exciting is the fact that Amakhosi have not beaten the Buccaneers since December 2014. 

However, they will have to choose their No.1 wisely for this clash, especially now that Itumeleng Khune is out injured. 

Chiefs have Virgil Vries as their second choice goalkeeper, but the arrival of Daniel Akpeyi from Chippa United during the January transfer window means the technical team no longer trusts the Namibia international. 

Vries has had his fair share of his mistakes in the eight matches that he has played, and Ernst Middendorp together with goalkeeper coach Lee Baxter must make a decision on who should start in goal for the Glamour Boys. 

Both Vries and Akpeyi have faced Pirates before, but none of them has played in a Soweto Derby before.

The Soweto Derby can either break or make a player, and this is very tricky considering that this will be the first for either keeper. 

Looking back, Vries made a costly mistake against Mamelodi Sundowns, while he also had to shoulder the blame for Amakhosi's loss to Cape Town City

And just like Pirates, these are genuine title contenders which Chiefs should not be losing to.

Akpeyi's readiness for the Soweto Derby could be a huge deciding factor, but for a player to make his club debut in a game as big and significant as this could simply backfire although previous goalkeepers such as Brilliant Khuzwayo and Reyaad Pieterse did well against Pirates.

Should Middendorp decide to drop Vries for Akpeyi on Saturday then the former's confidence could suffer a knock for the remainder of the season and beyond.

But now, the German-born mentor will have to account should he also continue to give Vries a chance even with an experienced goalkeeper such as Akpeyi in the team. 

Akpeyi was brought in to play hence the club had to dig deeper into their own pockets to sign him from the Chilli Boys.

Why splash the cash on a player only to bench him for the all-important game of the South African football calendar? This is one of the many questions he would have to answer should anything go wrong on Saturday. 

So, while Middendorp has to look ahead and think about how his decision would affect both his goalkeepers and the team, admittedly, this encounter comes at the wrong time for both Middendorp and Chiefs, and perhaps the fans will be forgiving should anything go wrong with either goalkeeper.  

He also has to think about his future as well, especially because losing to Pirates is regarded as a failure to any coach at Naturena.