Spotlight falls on keepers in the final
THEY BOTH made elementary errors in their teams’ matches at the weekend. But Ronwen Williams and Siyabonga Mpontshane enjoy the confidence of their coaches ahead of tomorrow’s Telkom Knockout final.
Williams was at fault for SuperSport United’s 2-1 defeat by Orlando Pirates in Polokwane, the young goalkeeper coming off the line but failing to clear the ball that led to Issa Sarr equalising.
Platinum Stars’ No1 Mpontshane’s mistake was not so costly though as Stars beat AmaZulu 4-2 at home at the weekend.
The two will know, however, that any such slip ups at Orlando Stadium tomorrow could be super costly – with cup finals usually tight affairs decided via errors.
Gordon Igesund and Allan Freese, coaches of the two teams’ respectively, are not in the least worried about the frame of mind their last line of defence will be in come kick-off.
“Ronwen made a mistake in our match against Pirates but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad goalkeeper,” said Igesund “In fact he had a very good game. But because he is a goalkeeper when he makes a mistake it becomes very profound because it leads to a goal.”
Freese, meanwhile, backed his goalkeeper who is on the verge of leaving Stars for Pirates.
“He only made one mistake in that match and Siyabonga knows what he must do to rectify that error. I don’t know much about the Pirates story, but what I know is that he has a contract with Platinum Stars and I’ve asked him to honour that contract by playing. And he will play on Saturday.”
In a country where there is literally only two big crowd pulling teams – Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs – there’s a general worry that tomorrow’s match could be played at an essentially empty stadium.
The Premier Soccer League could not say how many tickets have been sold by yesterday but announced that tickets which sell at R80 and R40 were still available.
Igesund and Freese were at pains trying to appeal to fans to come to the final, with the Stars coach promising entertaining football.
And it could well be a fantastic final, with both sides playing an attacking brand of football. That both knocked out the so-called top teams – SuperSport accounted of Wits and Pirates while Stars got the better of Chiefs and Sundowns - enroute to the final should guarantee an open clash.
As defending champions, Stars will be keen to retain their title while SuperSport are eager to win their first trophy under Igesund and their maiden one under Igesund’s leadership.
“We’ve worked very hard to get here and when the game starts we won’t be thinking about them being champions. We will go out there just to play to the best of our abilities so we can replace them as champions,” said Igesund who has turned SuperSport’s fortunes around after taking over from Cavin Johnson with the season already on the way “I’m not surprised at the quick turnaround because SuperSport have a good team. I’m more surprised at how quickly the players have reacted to my way of doing things and how I want them to play.”
Freese, on the other hand, is pleased his team is finally scoring goals after a poor run – especially in the league.
“I’m very encouraged by the win over AmaZulu, especially because w scored some goals because we’ve been struggling. (Ndumiso) Mabena had gone off the boil a bit but he has finally scored and I’m happy that (Eleazor) Rodgers got some goals too.”
The key tomorrow then will be for the goalkeepers to be at their sharpest, making for an intriguing final that will “produce good football” – Freese feels.