Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Emille Baron is ready to do duty for his team in the sold-out MTN8 Cup final against Mamelodi Sundowns at Durban’s Absa Stadium on Saturday.
Tickets for the R8-million first-prize competition were sold out two weeks ago, and all of South Africa’s focus will be on Durban as the two giants do battle.
Baron, who was used for all the MTN8 matches and conceded only one goal, wants to finish the competition on a high-note, but, as a consummate professional he knows coach Muhsin Ertugral has a tough choice.
”Obviously I would love to play in the final, I’d love to play in every game, but it’s Muhsin’s choice and he has a tough choice ahead of him,” said Baron.
Itumeleng Khune is Baron’s competition for the number-one jersey at the Naturena-based club, and the former South Africa Under-23 goalkeeper says it does not matter who Ertugral sticks between the poles as both players are equally good.
”Itu and I both want to play but like I said, it’s his choice. I support Itu all the way and he does the same for me. We compete at training and drive each other to bring out the best in one another, so it’s a win-win situation,” he noted.
”Whoever the coach selects will be able to do the job well, there is no question about that,” added Baron, who represented South Africa at the Olympics in 2000. ”I do have a problem with my shoulder but with the treatment I got I will be OK by Thursday.
Ertugral confirmed that choosing a goalkeeper is a difficult task, especially with Baron and Khune pledging their availability.
”Yes, it is a headache having two keepers of their quality. Baron is nursing an injury but should be ready in two days; Khune too wants to play,” the Turk said.
Chiefs lost 3-2 to Maritzburg United in an Absa Premiership contest marred by a violent tackle on Tshepo Bulu by former Chiefs defender Gary Goldstone. Khune was blamed for one of the goals but Ertugral said it was part of him learning.
”Goalkeepers do make mistakes and Khune felt bad about it. We had a chat about it and we told him to learn from it,” he said. ”There is nothing we can do about it but learn.
Referring to Maritzburg’s tactics, he said: ”I hope Sundowns come to play football and not to injure the players. That is not the way the beautiful game is meant to be played.
The eccentric coach admitted he is envious of Trott Moloto’s array of stars as he does not know who will start for the Mamelodi ”Globetrotters”.
”They’re like the Harlem Globetrotters,” he joked, ”Trott is spoilt for choice and what a nice problem to have. I heard him say that he does not know who to put on the bench. I can’t even begin to think of who will be on the field. Chabangu, Surprise, Collins, Mphela, Zuma … Maybe he will start with all of them.”
The game is scheduled to kick off at 8pm. — Sapa