Micho Sredojevic explains Siyabonga Mpontshane's Soweto Derby selection ahead of Jackson Mabokgwane
Posted: 6 March 2018 Time: 09:00
Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic has explained his decision to drop Jackson Mabokgwane for Siyabonga Mpontshane in the Soweto Derby.
Mabokgwane missed his first league game, since taking over the number one jersey from Wayne Sandilands in November last year, when Pirates beat Kaizer Chiefs 3-1 over the weekend.
Mpontshane, meanwhile, was given his first league start of the season, having previously only featured in their Nedbank Cup first-round victory over Ajax Cape Town.
Sredojevic then explained that, after conceding six goals in three games, a calculated risk was taken – in consultation with the rest of the technical team – that Mpontshane would start the Derby ahead of Mabokgwane.
“We really pay attention to the deepest possible details. We are extremely proud to have Wayne, who is on his way back from a fractured finger, Jackson and Siya,” said ‘Micho’.
“We had a situation and, in the most respectful way – we could have made the decision after Jackson conceded three in Cape Town, but – we thought, ‘No, it was the team that didn’t protect him’.
“We went on to play Maritzburg and conceded there. We then played Ajax Cape Town [in the Nedbank Cup] and made a planned change by playing Siya, who kept a clean sheet.
“We then went into the Chippa match and conceded two – but out of all six goals conceded there’s no blame on Jackson whatsoever; it means other players let him down.
“However, a match of the magnitude such as the Soweto Derby demands sometimes the same like going to a casino, whether Festival City or Monte Casino to play roulette.
“We had gone into the decision in total consensus with the goalkeeping coach, coach Rhulani [Mokwena], coach Benson [Mhlongo] and myself, and respectfully explained it to Jackson.”
Mabokgwane missed yet another opportunity to make his Derby debut, but the Serbian tactician highlighted the importance of placing the team’s interests ahead of any individual.
“It was with the highest possible degree of respect, but we cannot put the interests of any individual ahead of the interests of the team,” he added.
“We went with Siya with the approach of, ‘whatever he does wrong, the blame would be on us. If he does well, credit to him’.
“In that way it worked, but I also need to give credit to the players because they protected him. He did well, and he played for the team, but it could also have backfired.
“But that is the nature of the job, where you have to sometimes take really bold decisions.”