With speculation rife that Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic is set to trim his squad to a manageable number, former Bucs coach Gordon Igesund has weighed in on the matter.
The former Cranes of Uganda coach faces a headache in choosing who will remain with the Soweto giants or be released in order to achieve regular game time elsewhere.
Pirates are out to challenge for a trophies next season and are already working hard preparing for the 2018/19 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season in Mpumalanga.
Having signed nine players ahead of the new season in the likes of Meshack Maphangule, Brilliant Khuzwayo and Ben Motshwari among others, ‘Micho’ will be on the lookout for quality, not quantity.
With the addition of former Kaizer Chiefs keeper Khuzwayo, competition will be stiff between the posts where they have Siyabonga Mpontshane, Wayne Sandilands and Jackson Mabokgwane, all gunning to wear the number one jersey.
However, the former Highlands Park coach told our source that for Sredojevic to make the right decision, he will have to consult his goalkeeper coach because a coach cannot make a decision on his own.
“Look, you know it will be difficult to comment on their goalkeepers because I have not worked with them and to comment on them will become a bit difficult,” he told our source.
“However, I think the coach will have to talk to his goalkeeper coach who works with the keepers on a daily basis,” said the former Bafana mentor.
“The goalkeeper coach will be the one capable of guiding the coach on which to keep or release because these are quality keepers who will want to play regular football,” said the 61-year-old.
“Yes, the coach will make the final decision, but he will definitely need an input from the goalkeeper coach in terms of weaknesses and strengths,” explained the legendary manager.
A look at the left back spot, the Sea Robbers have the experienced Thabo Matlaba, Innocent Maela, Paseka Mako who joined from Chippa United and Mthokozisi Dube on their books, although Matlaba is rumoured to be on his way out.
“Personally for me, I used to enjoy Matlaba because of his runs down the left flank, he has engine and capable of paying on the right wing,” added Igesund.
“He also netted great goals for me at Bafana Bafana and he would cut inside and allow some of his teammates some space,” said the Durban-born tactician.
“But as a coach it depends on how you use a certain player based on a certain format, so we will see what the coach decides on his left backs,” added the Cape Town Santos coach.
“Because he has an engine, my only concern and I always told him, is to never lose shape and ensure he comes back to tuck in when a full back overlaps, I’m sure the coach will encourage him to do that – I’m not criticising him here,” said the former Manning Rangers boss.
“Surely the coach is busy now trying to find combinations and I am sure he will make the right choices in selecting his best eleven,” continued the mentor.
Following their failure to qualify for the MTN8 Cup a season ago, the Soweto giants signed the likes of Xola Mlambo and Musa Nyatama to beef up their midfield.
Subsequent to those signings, they managed to reach the Caf Champions League and finished in the top eight after claiming the second spot behind champions, Mamelodi Sundowns.
The former Mighty Maulers boss reckons Pirates will be capable of winning trophies next season as they have a strong and competitive midfield.
With the likes of Mpho Makola, Nyatama, Issa Sarr, Mlambo and new signings such as Ben Motshwari and Linda Mntambo hoping to make the cut, Sredojevic will also have a headache in choosing who must start.
However, Igesund believes a strong midfield gives the team a healthy competition as players will fight for places and there won’t be a room for complacency.
“They have made good signings so far and will be hoping to challenge for trophies, this is a big team and the likes of Sundowns, Chiefs and Bidvest Wits are clubs expected to win things,”said the four-time PSL winner.
“I think my only concern is that they do not have a ball winner in their midfield, a guy like Sarr used to do all the dirty work and let’s see how they play this season,” he cautioned.
“The competition for places will be very healthy for the club and we all saw Oupa Manyisa when he moved to Sundowns, he fought for the jersey and worked hard,” added the ex-SuperSport United tactician.
“I am not saying he didn’t fight for the jersey at Pirates, but the fact that he was skipper and a fan favourite, he was a bit complacent and in a comfort zone,” said Igesund.