One Absa Premiership coach will find a silver lining in the suspension of the 2019/20 season with the return of a goalkeeper he feels is as important to him as Itumeleng Khune or Daniel Akpeyi are to log leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
Black Leopards mentor Allen Clark should now be able to have the option to pick either Jonas Mendes or King Ndlovu when football does return in the coming weeks following their injuries prior to the season being halted by Covid-19.
The duo were injured in February, leaving Clark with no choice but to rely on third choice keeper Rotshidzwa Muleka and looking to the reserve team for a back-up while Mendez and King were nursing their way back.
“If I get all my goalkeepers back it will absolutely be a game changer. It’s almost an unheard of situation where you lose your two first team goalkeepers. You tell me if coach Pitso (Mosimane) loses Kennedy Mweene and Denis Onyango (at Mamelodi Sundowns) or if you lose Khune and (Daniel) Akpeyi, then where are you? It’s a difficult situation for anyone at the club,” Clark told the SA Football Journalists’ Association as he pondered the return of football recently.
“So the lockdown has given us enough time for Mendes and King to recover a little bit physically, but they will lack match sharpness because they have not been able to train under match conditions. In one hand you gain a little bit because you are able to recover, so do opposition players that were injured as well.
Mendes, a Guinea-Bissau international who played at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament for his country, joined for Leopards at the start of the season and – despite them being bottom of the table – has proved a decent addition.
He has made 21 appearances for Lidoda Duvha and could be crucial for the remaining six games of the season, whenever those are played.
In comparison, Akpeyi has also featured in the same number of games for Amakhosi and earned plaudits, individual awards as well as a new contract!
Khune returned from a long injury lay-off and Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has also admitted that it’s tough having to pick one over the other.
“Having two of our first choice goalkeepers back gives me more options defensively and in that department and I sleep better at night. When you have to call on the MDC goalkeeper then you know it’s getting tough,” said Clark.
Stand a chance to win a R250 shopping voucher by completing the polls below. Competition closes on the 5th of June 2020. Look out for the winner’s announcement on our Soccer Laduma platforms.