JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has the highest degree of confidence in new goalkeeper coach Andrew Sparkes to select the best goalie to start for the team in the next few weeks following the loss of Brilliant Khuzwayo to an injury.
Before Khuzwayo could even make his official debut for Pirates, he suffered an ankle injury that has ruled him out of action for three - four weeks.
Former Swansea City youth goalie coach Sparkes will be expected to select the starter from last season’s trio Jackson Mabokgwane, Wayne Sandilands and Siyabonga Mpotshane for their Saturday’s Absa Premiership’s opening clash against Highlands Park at Orlando Stadium (with kick-off at 20:15) .
“We have really strengthened our goalkeeping department,’’ Sredojevic said. “From the coaching point of view Andrew Sparkes has really sparked that department from his approach and methodology. He has paid attention to deepest detail from on the field and off. And he has analysed the goalkeepers as he wants to be sure that they are mentally and physically fit.”
On Khuzwayo’s injury, the coach said: “Regretfully, Brilliant Khuzwayo had a problem, and went on for an intervention that will take him out for quite a period. We wish him well in this moment so that can recover as soon as possible. He must come back quickly, so that he can fight for his place.’’
Mabokgwane, Sandilands and Mpontshane were all given a chance by ‘Micho’ in the Bucs’ season of revamp. Together, they stirred the Sea-Robbers ship to a runners-up finish on the Absa Premiership log’s standings. While in the entire campaign, the trio only conceded 26 goals among themselves – which was the league’s fourth best defensively record. Sredojevic is also banking on their defence to continue covering- up for their goal-minders.
“Yes, as coaches of outfield players; we are having a real big problem in deciding who will be in the starting eleven for the first competitive game (at home).
We have three serious competitors, namely: Jackson Mabokgwane, Wayne Sandilands and Siyabonga Mpontshane because all three of them are in the same line. We wish that department gives us the best expected service (from whoever is chosen) but we’ll also do our best to help out-field players to protect them in the best possible way.
There’s always a need for a two-way traffic,’’ he added.