Nigerian goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi has been named South Africa’s Absa Premiership Player of the Month after his impressive performances for Kaizer Chiefs.
Akpeyi kept four clean sheets in five games in October and November to help Chiefs continue their league dominance so far this season.
The 33-year-old was on Thursday, November 28, 2019, presented with the award at a press conference and the Nigerian said he was surprised with the recognition.
"It is a big surprise to me but it also shows the importance of putting effort forward in whatever you do,” the Nigeria international said.
“I give credit to the technical team who have been patient with me."
The award is a reward for his fine form since he got back into Kaizer Chiefs starting XI following an injury to first-choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.
Chiefs’ fans panicked when the club turned to Akpeyi after Khune’s performance and they had every right to.
Akpeyi didn't have a good start for the Amakhosi when he first joined in February 2019, making a series of errors in goal that cost his side.
But it’s been a different Akpeyi in goal since he replaced Khune in the 26th minute of their 1-0 win over Baroka in September.
With the score still goalless, the Nigerian goalkeeper put in a Man of the Match performance that helped Chiefs to a 1-0 win.
He has been impressive since that game. He saved a penalty in their shootout win over Cape Town City in an October cup knockout tie and has continued to save them points with some fantastic saves.
Since he returned, Akpeyi has saved 26 of the 29 shots he has faced to shut his critics.
This remarkable turnaround of form as also given him a shot at redemption with the Super Eagles after his horror show at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Super Eagles goalkeepers Francis Uzoho and Ikechukwu Ezenwa had seen little action in the season before AFCON 2019 so coach Gernot Rohr turned to Akpeyi as his first-choice goalkeeper of the tournament.
Akpeyi was far from convincing in Egypt and faced intense backlash for the last-minute goal he conceded in Nigeria’s 2-1 loss to Algeria in the semifinal.
He was dropped for the third-place game and was not called up for the friendly games against Ukraine and Brazil in September and October respectively.
At that point, it didn’t seem like there was back for him into the national team but an injury to Uzoho in the 1-1 draw against Brazil turned Rohr’s hands again.
While it was the injury to Uzoho that freed up space for his comeback, it was his impressive performance for Chiefs that meant Rohr would not be able to ignore him.
He joined the squad for the AFCON 2021 qualifiers and played in the games against Republic of Benin and Lesotho.
With the next international break in March 2020, Akpeyi must continue in his rich vein of form for Chiefs to retain his status with the Super Eagles.