JOHANNESBURG – Bruce Bvuma could find himself thrown in at the deep end and starting between the sticks for Kaizer Chiefs in next weekend’s Soweto Derby against Orlando Pirates.
Following yet another costly howler by current goalkeeper Virgil Vries, coach Ernst Middendorp is going to have to make a pretty tough choice as to whether he sticks with the Namibian international or entrusts the keeping duties to the 23-year-old Bvuma.
Vries failed to deal with Gift Links’ cross in the 1-0 loss to Cape Town City at FNB Stadium on Wednesday. After Vries failed to handle the ball, or punch it away, it landed in the path of Edmilson Dove, who had a simple tap-in.
This was similar to the mistake Vries made against Mamelodi Sundowns with the score also level in that encounter at the same venue. Vries misjudged a long ball. While he was languishing on the floor, Lebohang Maboe took the ball and scored into an empty net.
Middendorp was frustrated after the match, just like Chiefs supporters, who booed Vries off the pitch.
“I fully understand, I am not an idiot. I face the facts,” Middendorp said. “If you can’t score, you need the goalkeeper to come through for the team and keep it 0-0. I am not happy with this. It is happening for the second time. What must we say?
We have to work it out in the next days and we’ll see who is in the goalposts next Saturday. It is nice to protect players but on the other side, you must be capable. An easy punch would have cleared the ball.”
Vries has thrown away an opportunity to turn himself into a hero by manning Chiefs’ goal well in the absence of injured first choice Itumeleng Khune.
Chiefs took a gamble signing Vries. The Namibian is a good shot stopper but is erratic. His howlers are well-documented at his previous clubs. The only difference now is that they are heightened with Amakhosi under a bigger microscope than Maritzburg United and Golden Arrows where Vries made a number of mistakes. His mistakes at Chiefs are made worse by the club’s poor performance in front of goals.
“I am not going to sit here and say, ‘oh my God’, of course we didn’t score, but can you not sort the problem at the back, at this moment?" Middendorp said.
"I fully understand that the supporters are unhappy. This is not to throw somebody under the bus. We lost as a team. We will face it in a clear way and we have to design a training programme that will improve our scoring. It was a very clear mistake, not a proper action was used. It shouldn’t happen, not at this level.”
The German coach will be weighing the pros and cons of keeping Vries in goal. What could count in his favour for the derby is his experience over Bvuma, who has started only three matches in three seasons. But one more mistake will be curtains for Vries, especially in the derby.
“We face it. We can’t close our eyes,” Middendorp said. “It’s definitely going to be an interesting couple of days preparing for our next game.”