Spot­light falls on keep­ers in the fi­nal

The Star Early Edition - - CRICKET - MAT­SHE­LANE MAM­ABOLO

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.

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