The Battle of the Goalkeepers

It’s that time of the season when the Soweto Derby is again upon us. On Saturday will see the two fierce rivals Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates battle it out for bragging rights as well as CAF continental football qualification. The AmaKhosi have three games in hand over their Soweto rivals and are currently a superior points per game ratio as well.

If they can pull off a win, they will have a significant points gap (with games in hand) over their rivals going into the last few months of the season. Pirates are fresh off a mid-week game against Cape Town City where they failed to capitalise on a very convincing performance. Both teams’ goalkeepers have been in fine form over the season, which begs the question, how have they contributed to the team’s success? Laduma Analytics breaks down the battle of the goalkeepers.

Daniel Akpeyi

Injuries and poor form to former Bafana Bafana shot-stopper Itumeleng Khune has given rise to a new Number 1 goalkeeper in the AmaKhosi goal. Ever since the 2019/20 campaign, Akpeyi has been the most featured goalkeeper in the league for Kaizer Chiefs. He has played 65% of all their league games over the last 3 seasons and during the 2021/22 campaign has featured in 12 of the 18 games so far.

Daniel Akpeyi – Passing

Akpeyi has increased his involvement in Chiefs’ style of play over the previous two campaigns and now plays on average 35 passes per game. The biggest increase in his passing range has come in the medium range; these are passes that are played between the edge of the box and the halfway line. Most of these passes as the visual below shows have been directed out towards the left-hand side and the defenders as Chiefs look to build from there. The most common receivers of Akpeyi’s passes have been Mathoho, Parker, Cardoso and Dube.

Siyabonga Mpontshane

Ever since the injury to Richard Ofori in September 2020, Mpontshane has played a significant proportion of the Buccs games in between the sticks. Whilst playing only 22 league games across the last three seasons, he has convinced the coaching staff that he is the preferred goalkeeper, ahead of Wayne Sandilands for the Buccs this campaign. Of his 22 appearances, 19 have come during the current 2021/22 campaign alone.

Siyabonga Mpontshane – Passing

The biggest difference between Mpontshane’s passing numbers and Akpeyi is the passes per game. The Buccs keeper is involved in half as much as his Chiefs counterpart within the team however his range and ability differentiate them as well. With Mpontshane’s passing ability and range, the Buccs have tended to go for shorter range off their goal-kicks. Most of the recipients of Mpontshane passes have been Pirates defenders matching what we have seen in video evidence with balls to Mako, Ndah and Nyauza. In addition, there is more balance in his approach to sending the ball either left or right up the field, whilst his accuracy is also higher than Akpeyi.

XG

The expected goals (xG) of either goalkeeper tells an interesting story. Both goalkeepers have faced close to 1 xG per game through their appearances this season. The difference in xG is very slight between Akpeyi (0.97 xG) and Mpontshane (1.01 xG) yet the main difference lies in the distribution of the xG that their team has conceded. From a Chief’s perspective, we can clearly see the progression of how Akpeyi and the Chiefs defence has changed from previous seasons as they have conceded fewer high-quality chances regularly.

The same cannot be said for their rivals Orlando Pirates. Mpontshane and the defence have two strategies but consistency lacks in their defensive structure. The Buccs either shut out opposition opportunities very well or more often concede at least 1 or more xG per game. The conceding of at least 1 xG per game has occurred in at least 10 out of 18 matches this season. The visual below shows the occurrence for each goalkeeper and the total match xG chance that they have faced this campaign.

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Author: editor

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