JOHANNESBURG - The decision to start Siyabonga Mpontshane instead of Jackson Mabokgwane was motivated by putting the team’s interest ahead of individuals, Orlando Pirates’ coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic revealed.
The Buccaneers threw Kaizer Chiefs a curve-ball by starting Mpontshane ahead of Mabokgwane who seems to be the Buccaneers’ No. 1 goalkeeper.
Mpontshane looked solid in his first start in the league this season, helping Pirates beat Amakhosi 3-1 on Saturday at FNB Stadium
“I will tell you that we really pay attention to the deepest possible detail,” Sredojevic said. “We made this decision in the most respectful way.
“We could have done this after conceding three goals against Ajax Cape Town. We thought no, the team didn’t protect him. We went to play Maritzburg United and we conceded.
“We then played Ajax Cape Town (in the Nedbank Cup) with the intention of playing Siya, and he kept a clean sheet.
“And then in our last match (against Chippa United), we played Jackson and we conceded two goals. In each of the six goals that we conceded, we aren’t blaming Jackson. Other players let him down.”
Sredojevic continued: “However, a match of this magnitude demands sometimes (gambling). It’s similar to when you go to the casino to play (Russian) roulette.
“We made this decision with the consultation of the goalkeeper coach (Vukusic Ivica), coach Rhulani (Mokwena) and coach Benson (Mhlongo), and we respectfully went to Jackson and explained the decision.
“We had the highest possible degree of respect for him, but we can’t put the interest of an individual ahead of the team. We went to Siya and we told him that if have a bad game, blame us, and if you have a good game, credit to you.
“It worked. I need to give credit to the players, they protected him. It worked for us, but it could backfire. You need to take bold decisions sometimes in this job.”
This win kept Pirates within touching distance of Sundowns. They trail the log leaders by four points with seven matches remaining.