Marc Strydom | 2017-04-23 13:55:55.0
Stuart Baxter during the SuperSport United press conference at PSL Offices on April 20, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image by: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images
SuperSport United coach Stuart Baxter said he knew that the goalkeeping hero of his side’s 5-3 Nedbank Cup quarterfinal penalties victory against Kaizer Chiefs would be “pumped to return to FNB Stadium”.
Baxter recalled ex-Chiefs keeper Pieterse to his starting line-up for Saturday night’s crucial quarterfinal for the defending champions in the cup competition that now probably represents SuperSport’s last chance of silverware in 2016-17.
This was despite the man-mountain keeper having conceded five goals in his previous match‚ the 5-0 league thrashing by Mamelodi Sundowns two Thursdays ago.
Ronwen Williams had only let in one goal in Matsatsantsa’s next three games‚ so it might have seemed a strange choice by the coach on the surface of it.
But Pieterse saved a penalty from old team-mate Bernard Parker in extra time to keep the score at 1-1‚ then another from George Maluleka in the shootout.
Baxter said there were a number of factors in the decision to recall Pieterse‚ one being that he thought the keeper‚ released by Chiefs at the end of last season‚ might have a point to prove at his old home ground.
“We’ve had Rons (Williams) on the injured list – a very bad injury (from November to mid-February). We’ve nursed him back and he’s got a few games under the belt‚” Baxter explained.
“And he’s done amazingly well in terms of his physique‚ because he’s lost 5 kilograms through hard work‚ and he’s probably the fittest he’s been for a long time. And in a way I want to reward that.
“Also‚ because we knew that against Sundowns (in a second‚ 1-0 defeat on Wednesday) we were going to try and build from the back‚ and we knew that with Ronwen if it was tight on him he can play.
“Reeyad‚ on the other hand‚ is more dominant on one-v-ones and crosses and knocking long ones onto our front play.
“So there was a little bit of policy of selecting your goalkeepers to get them all fit‚ and a little but of taking one for the game.
“And I knew Reyaad would be pumped to come back to the FNB. So it was just try to pick the best goalkeeper for the job.”
Ex-Chiefs coach Baxter was also up against his old club‚ fielding a number of the players who have defected from Amakhosi to SuperSport since his move to Pretoria‚ including Pieterse‚ Reneilwe Letsholonyane‚ Morgan Gould and Mandla Masango.
– TMG Digital/TMG Sport