From shadow to spotlight for Chippa goalie
Akpeyi replacement Mzimela shines as man of match
Chippa United shot-stopper Mbongeni Mzimela, who has been living in the shadow of Daniel Akpeyi, has finally got his opportunity to shine after the Nigerian goalkeeper recently left for Kaizer Chiefs.
Mzimela, 33, who returned to Port Elizabeth last season after his spell at Platinum Stars, played his first game of the season against Baroka last weekend.
He was instrumental in the team’s 1-1 draw against Bakgaga. The goalkeeper stood his ground against an attacking Baroka side with his bravery gaining him the man-of-the-match accolade.
With only 11 games left before the end of the season, Mzimela said he hoped to keep that momentum.
“I was happy when I heard the news of Akpeyi’s departure because I knew I wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity to replace him unless he was injured or something.
“It was only because he had moved to somewhere better,” said the goalkeeper from Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal.
“He has been very supportive and also called me before the Baroka game to wish me good luck.
“The man-of-the-match accolade has boosted my confidence levels going into the next game because I have not played for a very long time.
“And then, playing your first match away and against an attacking side like Baroka was not easy,” he said.
“In the remaining games, my wish is to maintain my performance but it won’t be easy because all games are not the same. I want to stay positive and keep improving.”
The former Amazulu player re-joined Chippa last season after having left the team in 2015 for Platinum Stars.
“I am happy that this opportunity has finally come after a long time of being on the sidelines. I was used to being the first-choice goalkeeper.
“When I left Chippa, I was the first-choice keeper and upon my arrival at Platinum Stars I was the team’s No 1 goalkeeper.
“However, when I came back to Chippa, I knew I was competing against an international goalkeeper and it was not going to be easy for me just to jump straight into first-choice.
“I was just patiently waiting for the opportunity to come, for me to play again. Although I was not playing, I kept myself fit and was ready for the call.”
Because of that readiness, Mzimela said he was not shaken when he was told to step in for Akpeyi three days before their game against Baroka.
Mzimela will next be in action when Chippa United play Free State Stars at Goble Park in Bethlehem on Saturday.