Keepers under spotlight in the derby
As the countdown to the Soweto derby begins, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates find themselves faced with a goalkeeping crisis.
Over the decades the derby has had many goalkeeper heroes including Patson Banda, Banks Setlhodi, William Okpara, Brian Baloyi, Senzo Meyiwa and Itumeleng Khune.
However, this season has been characterised by instabilities in the goalkeeper department. Both sets of fans have low confidence in the men who stand behind the defence, which itself has been leaky with Chiefs having conceded 18 goals while Pirates have allowed 17.
The long-term injury to number one stopper Khune has exposed Chiefs's lack of quality reserves, not only in the goalkeeper department but overall.
The management must also take the blame by signing rejects from other clubs. They signed Virgil Vries after Baroka had released him. A jittery Vries has been error prone, having made a number of horrendous mistakes. His howlers cost his team a 2-1 loss against Mamelodi Sundowns and the most recent against Cape Town City (1-0).
The midweek error against City forced the management to scramble to find another goalkeeper, which led to the signing of Nigerian stopper Daniel Akpeyi from Chippa United on deadline day. It remains to be seen if Akpeyi can withstand the pressure at Chiefs.
The problem at Pirates has been their inability to choose a first-choice goalkeeper. The technical team has opted for a rotation policy with Jackson Mabokgwane, Siyabonga Mpontshane and Wayne Sandilands. Since his howler in the first game of the season in August against Highlands Park, Sandilands has not played a game.
Mpontshane has been the preferred stopper with 14 league appearances while Mabokgwane has made four. However, things have been shaky for Mpontshane after the Telkom Knockout final loss to Baroka in December.
Mpontshane did not have the best game in that final and took some of the blame for that defeat. Brilliant Khuzwayo is still to make his debut due to an injury.
With Bucs desperate to end their trophy drought, this instability in the crucial department is certainly not the hallmark of a championship winning team.