Super Eagles number one goalkeeper at 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), Daniel Akpeyi was benched as Kaizer Chiefs reclaimed top spot in the Absa Premiership with a 2-0 victory away to AmaZulu on Tuesday afternoon.
With Itumeleng Khune make a long-awaited return for the visitors, the former Heartland, Warri Wolves and Chippa United shot stopper made the 18-man squad but watched from the bench.
The Amakhosi were off to a positive start inside four minutes when Reeve Frosler broke down the right to cross for Lebogang Manyama, who blazed over the top from close range.
Usuthu casually created momentum, and put Khune to work in the final nine minutes as he acrobatically denied former AmaKhosi winger Ovidy Karuru from a corner kick.
Leonardo Castro made an appearance off the bench for the travelling side on 43 minutes after a head injury to Samir Nurkovic forced the change.
After a quiet start to the second half, Khama Billiat went one-on-one with Siyabonga Mbatha after the hour mak from Manyama’s persistent play on the edge of the area, but the Zimbabwean dragged wide off the far post. Usuthu continued living on the edge of their seat three minutes later after Billiat found another clear chance inside the area, but Mbatha pulled off a point-blank stop on this occasion.
Ernst Middendorp threw his last dice on the table, as injury ended Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya’s short time on the field, with Dumisani Zuma his replacement with 15 minutes remaining in the second half.
The Glamour Boys eventually hit the front seven minutes later when Castro applied a striker’s instinct to poach home a rebound off the post following Manyama’s curling free-kick.
Chiefs rounded off the contest in added time when Billiat raced through again and finished into the bottom corner following a Kearyn Baccus lay-off, as the Soweto giants return to the top of the table.
Akpeyi joined Chiefs in a hastily move during the mid-season transfer window in January, essentially as a replacement for Khune following the latter’s injury picked up in December 2018.
The Nigeria international penned a seventeen-month deal that will keep him at Kaizer Chiefs until at least June 30, 2020.
He left Nigeria to join Chippa United in 2015 after stints with Gabros, Heartland, Nasarawa United and Warri Wolves.