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How Chiefs keeper Vries picked himself up from Sundowns horror

Virgil Vries.
Virgil Vries.
Image: Kaizer Chiefs via Twitter

Virgil Vries said he went back and reexamined the positives of his seven months at Kaizer Chiefs to lift himself from a horror goalkeeping error that gifted an Absa Premiership victory to Mamelodi Sundowns this month.

Vries faces potentially the rest of the season in goal for Chiefs as Bafana Bafana No 1 Itumeleng Khune battles back from shoulder injury.

Signed from Baroka FC at the start of the season‚ Vries will be between the posts when Amakhosi meet Zesco United in the second leg of their Caf Confederation Cup playoff round tie against Zesco United with a 3-1 deficit on Saturday at FNB Stadium (kickoff 8pm).

The keeper has had to bravely pick himself up from his nightmare mistake against Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld on January 5 when‚ with Chiefs pushing hard for a win‚ Vries misjudged a bounce to allow Lebohang Maboe in for an easy 81st-minute winner.

Vries kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 away win over Wits the next game. And while he has conceded five goals in his last two games – the defeat against Zesco in Zambia‚ and a 3-2 midweek league win away against AmaZulu – none of those were from personal error.

“I had an opportunity to go back and look at the clip. I had a choice – to see my mistake‚ to learn from it; or to go back into my shell‚ forgetting the purpose that I’m here for‚” Namibia international Vries said.

“So I had to step up – I had to be positive.

“I went back and looked at the positive things that I have done. Looked at the things that will give me that mindset of what type of goalkeeper I am‚ and who I am.

“Because I can’t sit back and say now that because of this mistake I am suddenly be a bad goalkeeper.

“I know the pain that I have caused. But at the end of the day it’s also a work in progress.

“So for me to get back there again I have to show up. Because if I don’t show up I’ll still be there where I am. But if I show up‚ it gives me an opportunity to grow and to get better.”

Sitting next to Vries at Chiefs’ pre-Zesco match press conference‚ Willard Katsande‚ Chiefs’ combative defensive midfielder and stand-in captain in Khune’s absence‚ was at pains to interject and say: “Sorry – I think to add on‚ this guy is a big boy.

“He’s an international keeper. And one mistake doesn’t define that he’s a bad goalkeeper.

“We told him‚ ‘No‚ we are together in this. It’s not Vries who lost to Sundowns. It’s Kaizer Chiefs’.

“We said‚ ‘Don’t look down‚ we are together. If you look down‚ we look down‚ and if you are happy we are happy’.

“He is a big boy. He took the responsibility. And that’s what we want from a professional.

“And there are many things that he has done‚ like in the penalty shootout against Leopards‚ where he was the hero of the day.”

Vries made two saves at FNB as Chiefs beat Black Leopards 4-2 in the penalty shootout after a 1-1 result in the Telkom Knockout in October.

- TMG Digital.

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