Former Bafana Bafana star Stanton Fredericks has come full circle, and is set to make his return for BidVest Wits at Milpark on Saturday — the club where he began his career in 1995 — against Orlando Pirates, who he played for briefly in 2006.
The 32-year-old midfielder also played for Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United before going to Russia, and has been brought back by the Students’ head coach, Roger de Sa, to add more experience and leadership to what he terms his “kindergarten”.
“I jumped at the chance of bringing Fredericks back to Wits. It is like coming home for him,” said De Sa. “I have promoted a lot of players from our youth academy and need players such Fredericks to lend their experience. He will be in the squad on Saturday and could play against Pirates.”
Fredericks played 115 times for Wits before moving to Chiefs and earning 14 Bafana caps, scoring twice for his country.
De Sa has a plan up his sleeve to counter and upset the more skilful Buccaneers and is happy to be playing at home after having to play the opening home league clash against champions SuperSport United at Ellis Park because of renovations.
De Sa’s youth policy, however, has its downside. “I have about five players [including midfielder Christopher Flandorp] who are writing preliminary exams at the university at present and who have not trained much this week.
“But I am not complaining, as I knew we would face these problems when I signed the youngsters. I still back my ‘kindergarten’ kids and the experienced old heads in the side to rattle Pirates.”
De Sa is wary of the emerging giant that is Pirates. “I reckon Pirates will finish in the top three in the league this season and they are hungry for success.
De Sa is aware of the Bucs’ danger man, Zambian midfield magician Isaac Chansa, who was named man of the match in the 1-1 MNT8 semifinal draw against Chiefs at a packed FNB Stadium last weekend.
“Pirates have been impressive so far, but at least I know what to expect having seen them a number of times this season.
“They will be a handful, especially Chansa, who has matured into a dangerous player since returning from a stint in Europe.
“Chansa has benefited from that European experience and is the key to Pirates’ success and I aim to make sure he is kept as quiet as possible and not allow him too much space in the midfield.”
Wits’ no-name-brand players always rise to the occasion against the more glamorous sides like Pirates, and that is what De Sa is banking on. “All my players love to play Pirates and for the younger ones this is going to be a great experience.”
De Sa has appealed to the PSL to provide a tough referee. “All I ask for is a fair crack of the whip from the match officials who should not be intimidated by Pirates supporters.” — Sapa