Kaizer Chiefs reaching their maiden Caf Champions League is “massive progress to the South African Premiership” as the achievement sends a strong message across the African continent, according to ‘Amakhosi’ goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi.
The Soweto giants shocked many as they have previously failed to even get through the group stages of the Champions Champions and struggled in the league last season. But Chiefs are now set to tackle the Egyptian giants Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly in the final at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca‚ Morocco, on Saturday‚ July 17.
Akpeyi believes Sundowns winning the Champions League back in 2016 and Chiefs’ astonishing run to the final is an indication to the continent that the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is an emerging force as a top league in Africa.
It is worth noting that Orlando Pirates paved the way for Sundowns and Chiefs as they managed to end a long barren spell for SA clubs by reaching the final in 2013.
“This is actually massive progress to the South African league and to the South African teams‚” said Akpeyi.
“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 is well aware that Chiefs head into the final as 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‚” added the keeper.
“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,” he concluded.
RELATED STORY: Katsande eyeing Champions League swansong
By Tokelo Mokhesi