Newly appointed Orlando Pirates’ goalkeeper coach Andrew Sparkes has given his views on his analysis of the team’s goalkeepers.
Having added to their roster former Kaizer Chiefs shot-stopper Brilliant Khuzwayo, Bucs have four experienced goalkeepers in their current squad.
Khuzwayo has joined Siyabonga Mpontshane, Wayne Sandilands and Jackson Mabokgwane in Bucs’ current squad.
Last season under coach Milutin Sredojevic’s technical team, Bucs preferred a rotation system from which the team’s goalkeeping duties were shared between Mpontshane, Sandilands and Mabokgwane.
With the Buccaneers preparing for their competitive friendly match against Congolese giants TP Mazembe today, the goalkeeper coach at the Soweto giants have provided an analysis of what he has seen from the team’s goalkeepers since his arrival at the club last month.
“I did a lot of analysis before joining the Club so I had an in-depth understanding of how our ‘keepers react tactically in certain situations. There is a big responsibility that they (are) carrying as the last line of defence and our immediate expectation is for them to do better than last season, even if it’s by one game more. The plan is based around where they are now, relative to where we want them to be, and the level we believe they can be at as Orlando Pirates goalkeepers. We have an experienced bunch of guys who have all have played in the PSL and that bodes well for the Club,” Sparkes told Pirates’ official website.
Bucs will face Mazembe in Ndola in Zambia this afternoon in a match seen as the revival of the two teams’ rivalry from the CAF Champions League.
The late Senzo Meyiwa saved two penalties against Mazembe during the memorable Champions League match between the two teams in 2013.
“In any relationship, the starting point is in getting to know each other. We needed to understand the expectations and also what we want to achieve as a unit. With that in mind, my starting point was to see where the goalkeepers were last season, to analyse all of them and see how they performed and try to identify their strengths and other areas we can improve upon for the upcoming season. The first two weeks of pre-season was a lot of hard work at training due to a lack of game-time but we identified and worked on certain areas that I want them to excel in. We have done a lot of analysis of our training sessions as well, and this will be crucial in order to improve,” added Sparkes.
The former Swansea City Head of Academy Goalkeeping will be watching with keenness the performance of the goalkeeper(s) selected for Sredojevic’s side against Mazembe.
“For me, the importance of this game is to see if the goalkeepers can implement some of the things we’ve done at training. We’ll have a tough season of back-to-back games so there’ll be very little turnaround time between training and matches. The result will be important from the perspective of getting a winning mentality, but for the pre-season games, I’ll be first and foremost looking at the individual performances of the goalkeepers and how they can help the team perform.
“The most important thing is the start of the season and whoever takes that number one jersey needs to be ready. They are already competing for spots for that first league game so it will be interesting to see who steps up and performs in the pre-season games and training, and shows that they deserve the jersey,” concluded the goalkeeper coach.