Orlando Pirates have three goalkeepers in sharp condition vying for game time in the absence of Brilliant Khuzwayo for Bucs’ opening Premiership game against Highlands Park‚ says coach Milutin Sredojevic.
Khuzwayo, a new signing from Kaizer Chiefs, needs ankle surgery and will be out for almost a month.
The keeping department has been an issue for Bucs over the past few seasons‚ but Sredojevic said the new goalkeeper coach from Premier League Swansea City‚ Andrew Sparkes‚ has Pirates’ glove men in top condition. "Goalkeeping is a department that is important and crucial to us. Because we know very well that in any season goalkeepers usually bring 12 to 15 points.
"And I could say that we have really strengthened our goalkeeping department. From the point of coaching‚ Sparkes has really sparked that department," Sredojevic said.
He hailed Sparkes’s methodology‚ on the field and off the field‚ and his "attention to the smallest details‚ analysing‚ looking to make the keepers mentally strong, which is really important for goalkeepers".
Sredojevic said Sparkes had also looked to make the goalkeepers physically fit "for whatever they need‚ because the goalkeeping department has a different range of movements and fitness readiness".
"Then‚ technically and tactically, he has also been making them ready for the game model we are playing‚ where the goalkeeper needs to be like a playmaker. He has done a tremendous job with the players.
"Regarding the goalkeepers who we have‚ they are used to our game model. They have worked very hard. And if we as coaches talk about the outfield players‚ we are having a very big problem to decide who will be the first 11 for the first game.
"But if anyone has the problem‚ at goalkeeper there are three serious competitors: Jackson Mabokgwane‚ Wayne Sandilands and Siyabonga Mpontshane," he said.
Pirates play promoted Highlands at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.