JOHANNESBURG - Virgil Vries won’t spend his Kaizer Chiefs career trying to emerge from first-choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune’s shadow - he’s been given that guarantee by coach Giovanni Solinas.
Following his Telkom Knockout penalty shoot-out heroics on Sunday afternoon, after he had received the nod ahead of Khune when Amakhosi hosted and beat Black Leopards 4-2 via a spot-kicks lottery, the Italian mentor gave reasons why Vries would not go unnoticed at the club.
Vries joined Chiefs at the start of the season to replace Brilliant Khuzwayo, who crossed the floor to rivals Orlando Pirates as a free agent after he grew frustrated with being ignored, having only managed a disappointing 27 league games in six years at Naturena. Khuzwayo hardly ever stood a chance at getting game time unless Khune was injured or ill, so it was natural that Vries was warned to expect the same treatment.
“I have looked at the situation and realised that we have two fantastic goalkeepers of international standard,” said Solinas. “This was a normal rotation. Yes, Khune is our No.1 and he is also Bafana’s No.1, but we are soon going to start our campaign in Africa (Caf Confederation Cup).
"We will be playing in the league and in the cup and sometimes it is good also to rest the goalkeeper. (While) at Juventus, (Gianluigi) Buffon also got to rest, so why shouldn’t Khune? I can give you reasons why he should rest.”
The coach then proceeded to make the comparisons between his first choice and deputy, who became the hero for Chiefs on Sunday after the game had ended in a 1-1 draw following extra time in the cup tie with Leopards.
“I watched the game of Bafana against Seychelles - home and away (the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers) - and Khune was outstanding, very good. I also watched the game of Namibia, where Vries was the goalkeeper. He performed very well,” Solinas said of the fixtures in which Khune kept clean sheets, while Vries conceded a single goal in the two matches against Mozambique.
“So I am happy that I have two very good goalkeepers. But it’s not just them. There is Bruce Bvuma, who played in the Macufe Cup and did very well. We don’t have a problem in this department - we can sleep very well when it comes to the goalkeepers at Kaizer Chiefs.”