Pirates’ keeper Sipho Chaine stakes a claim to Bafana call-up after MTN8 heroics
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has bemoaned the limited number of quality South African goalkeepers. However, Orlando Pirates’ Sipho Chaine could be a fresh contender after his MTN8 heroics.
Orlando Pirates retained their MTN8 title on Saturday after an impressive penalty-saving masterclass from goalkeeper Sipho Chaine, which saw them trounce Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 in the shootout.
It took penalties to separate the pair following a 0-0 stalemate after 120 minutes of cagey soccer in which the two coaches, Jose Riveiro and Rulani Mokwena, showed mutual respect for each other’s tactical prowess.
But Sundowns will be kicking themselves after missing several outright chances at a sold-out and windy Moses Mabhida in Durban.
The Tshwane giants were uncharacteristically wasteful in front of goal. This boosted the confidence of the Sea Robbers, who also created their own chances but ultimately could not sink them.
This profligacy enforced penalties, which was an opportunity for Sundowns’ goalminder, Ronwen Williams, or his Pirates counterpart, Sipho Chaine, to shine.
It was the latter who stepped up to the plate to outshine Bafana’s No 1, Williams. Chaine pulled off three immaculate saves to deny Bongani Zungu, Junior Mendieta and Teboho Mokoena.
Karim Kimvuidi then dispatched the all-important winning penalty to see Pirates’ Spanish coach Riveiro claim his third trophy from the three finals he has reached since arriving in South Africa a year ago.
Riveiro was as gracious as ever in victory.
“We went through a difficult period recently. So, the way that these guys fought for the trophy, for the club, for the Pirates family, for our fans to try to inspire them, to try to move them, to give them hope [was amazing],” he told SuperSport after the game.
As much as the victory will serve to ease the pressure that Riveiro has been under in recent weeks, the win was all about Chaine.
Ironically, when the Buccaneers crashed out of the CAF Champions League preliminary round at the end of September (downed by Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy), Chaine was subbed off for the penalty kicks after a 1-1 stalemate between the teams.
On came Ghana’s Richard Ofori. The gamble did not pay off as the Sea Robbers were bundled out 5-4 and failed to qualify for the group phase of the Champions League.
It could have been easy for Chaine to let the technical team’s decision knock his confidence heading into the MTN8 final.
However, he kept his head down and emphatically proved his penalty-saving prowess in Durban.
His performance will have certainly caught the eye of Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos.
Last year, the Belgian tactician bemoaned the limited number of South African goalkeepers commanding regular spots in DStv Premiership teams. There is no internationally based goalkeeper currently in the reckoning for a spot in the Bafana team.
This is in stark contrast to when Andre Arendse, Hans Vonk and Brian Baloyi — three outstanding goalminders — were battling for the No 1 shirt in Bafana Bafana in the 1990s and early 2000s.
At that time, former Sundowns keeper John Tlale was also raising his hand high. But the competition was too much, leaving him with just a sprinkling of senior SA caps to his name.
“It is not up to me to change rules, I am the Bafana Bafana coach. I am a foreigner from Belgium. [But] the Premier Soccer League and the South African Football Association have to talk about how they are going to improve it. We have a problem here,” Broos said of the goalkeeper situation for South Africa.
“It’s a big problem. If you go to every club in the PSL, you always find a foreign keeper,” added the Belgian. “There are five or six South African goalkeepers. From those five you have to choose three good ones, because it is Bafana Bafana.”
In the current Bafana setup, Sundowns’ Williams is the undisputed No 1, a position he has further cemented following his move from SuperSport United to Masandawana in mid-2022.
Veli Mothwa appears to be Broos’ preferred second choice behind the entrenched Williams. The AmaZulu goalkeeper has been a mainstay in the team since the Belgian’s arrival in May 2021, and the 71-year-old coach has praised Mothwa’s leadership qualities.
That means the likes of SuperSport’s Ricardo Goss (who is the current third-choice keeper), Chaine, and the Kaizer Chiefs duo of Brandon Petersen and Bruce Bvuma will probably be left to duel for the final spot in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations final squad.
Broos and his technical team will have taken note of Chaine’s heroics against Sundowns. Although three penalty saves alone do not warrant a place in Bafana Bafana, it is a step in the right direction for the 26-year-old. DM