CAPE TOWN – Sometimes, during the course of a football season, there are simply players who stand head and shoulders above the rest. It was that way with Lebogang Manyama two seasons ago and it was that way with Percy Tau last season: halfway through the campaign, we already knew they would be named as the PSL’s Footballer of the Season.
This season, for the PSL’s goalkeeper prize, the award may as well be handed out right now. Cape Town City’s Dutch number one Peter Leeuwenburgh has been the best on show and there is no doubt that he is the leading candidate for the Goalkeeper of the Season gong come the end of the campaign.
On Tuesday, in a tight fixture against Polokwane City, Leeuwenburgh again produced some excellent saves to ensure that City emerged as 2-1 winners on the night. It was a tough, difficult game - the result could have gone either way - and the Dutch goalkeeper proved to be the difference.
Most impressive was Leeuwenburgh’s acrobatic effort to palm away a shot from Polokwane’s Salulani Phiri five minutes before half-time. The ball looked destined for the top corner, only for the Dutchman to produce the spectacular save.
In reflecting on Tuesday’s win, Leeuwenburgh said: “We knew that playing Polokwane away would be a tough one. We started very well and managed to score the first goal. We were a little bit under pressure but we managed to keep the advantage.
“In the second half we should have put the game to bed earlier when we were 2-0 up and they were one man down. But we made it unnecessarily difficult for ourselves; in the end, though, we got the three points and that’s what we came for, and that’s all that matters.”
During tight games, there is a fine line between winning and losing and goalkeepers are often the difference between going home with three points or nothing.
Coach Benni McCarthy, mindful of this, had only one objective when starting his second season in charge of City - to find a reliable, dependable number one.
McCarthy and club boss John Comitis used their contacts in the Netherlands to good effect and in July this year, City landed a top-class goalkeeper in Leeuwenburgh. And in a short space of time, the 24-year-old has taken the PSL by storm.
He played an influential role in the Citizens winning the MTN8 competition in September. More than that, the Dutchman’s presence has infused the squad with confidence, safe in the knowledge that the man at the back has their backs.
Next up for City is another away game when they tackle Highlands Park at the Makhulong Stadium in Johannesburg tomorrow (3.30pm).
The Dutch keeper is expecting another difficult encounter against opponents desperate to turn around their fortunes.
Leeuwenburgh has represented the Netherlands at Under-17, U19 and U20 level and spent five years at Ajax Amsterdam. Unfortunately, he could never get the nod for the senior team, playing most of his football at Jong Ajax (the Reserve Team). So, when City offered him a shot at regular football, he jumped at the opportunity. He has certainly justified McCarthy’s confidence in his ability and vindicated his decision to leave the Netherlands for a South African adventure.
As City prepared to face Highlands, Leeuwenburgh said: “It will be another tough game away from home. We know that they’re a team that is willing to fight for the points. But we have to show the same fighting spirit. I think that we have the better players on the pitch, but we have to put in the work. It will not be easy, but we are definitely looking for another win.”@Reinerss11