JOHANNESBURG - Ronwen Williams, who ended speculation linking him with a move from SuperSport United to Orlando Pirates by agreeing to extend his stay at the Tshwane club, said it was a "no-brainer" putting pen to paper on a five-year contract with the reigning Nedbank Cup champions.
The goalkeeper will be between the sticks for Saturday's final Caf Confederation Cup group phase clash at home against CF Mounana of Gabon with his future firmly secured as SuperSport look to qualify for the quarter-finals of the continental competition.
“It (the rumour of a move to Pirates) has been there since the sad passing of Senzo Meyiwa three years ago, but I have never wanted to leave this club or ever had any doubts,” Williams, 25, explained.
“They have been good to me. A few years ago when I lost my brother, they were amazing towards me that time and gave me a lot of time off to recover and overcome it - they helped me financially as well. It shows the faith they have in me and I am repaying them now by committing to stay here for five more years. We have always had good and positive vibes between us and we continue to show that loyalty.”
Williams argued that what has kept him at SuperSport is the consistent challenge for silverware every season, as evidenced by the 2016/17 campaign in which they ended in fifth place, having dropped off the title race in the final weeks and also fought to retain the Nedbank Cup, becoming the first side to do so in the last decade.
“If the club wants me to stick around for the rest of my life, I am happy to do so,” said a player who joined Matsatsantsa when he was just 12-years-old.
“My family is happy, I am happy and the club is obviously happy. We challenge for trophies every season, so they have never given me a reason to leave. The club has proved the change in mentality in terms of wanting to win things and even in the continent, we don’t just want Mamelodi Sundowns to be the only club doing so on the continent. You can see our approach from the previous season under coach Stuart Baxter. We want to push ourselves and see how far we can go.”
The next level, then, would be to try get past Mounana at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday afternoon to reach the quarter-finals of the Confederation Cup. SuperSport thrashed the team from Gabon 5-3 away in May, and Mounana will play the return fixture already eliminated from the competition, perhaps making it easier for the South Africans to edge past them.
“They have been the weakest side in the group (which also includes defending champions TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea’s Horoya), but we still want to go out there and win to reach the next round,” the keeper said.
“We are not relaxed at all. When (Stuart) Baxter was here, he drilled it in us to want to win every game even if it is friendly. We have that character and mentality going into this game.”
Baxter has permanently taken over as Bafana Bafana coach, while Eric Tinkler has stepped in as his replacement, but there was no confirmation yet if the former Cape Town City mentor will be on the bench on Saturday because he hasn’t yet acquired a CAF card.
Should he still not have one, assistant coach Kaitano Tembo will continue to lead the team as he has done for the away games while Baxter was doubling up as national team coach.