Madmen of football to decide Wafa Wafa Cup finalThomas Kwenaite
Goalkeepers are often considered the odd men out. They are described as the crazy men of the game, particularly when you consider than in a team sport made up of eleven members, they are distinguished by their odd, brightly colours to the rest of the team.
They are not just the odd looking characters, but their sometimes baggy Bermuda pants, goalkeeper gloves coupled with crazy antics on the field of play has reinforced the perception that goalkeepers are indeed crazy.
I mean, who in their right mind find it an amusing pastime to venture into a situation where thighs, elbows and fists are flying? Is it bravery, or plain madness to dive onto the feet of an onrushing forward without any regard to safety?
Legendary former Liverpool and Zimbabwe goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar used to amuse spectators by hanging upside down the poles like a trapeze artist or circus clown while the action was confined to the other half of the field.
And for good measure, he pulled his pants down when the referee was not looking. Who could forget former Bidvest Wits, Orlando Pirates and now AmaZulu goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, who would pull out his false dentures, and show opponents his toothless grin.
Yet despite their crazy antics, goalkeepers play crucial roles in the success of any club. A sound and reliable goalkeeper is blessed with the ability to inspire confidence in the rest of his team-mates who, even when they venture forward, do not fear leaving him exposed, because they know he can cover his back.
It is for this reason that Dutch-born Peter Leeuwenburgh and South African Ronwen Williams are tipped to steal the show for their respective teams when Cape Town City line-up against SuperSport United in the repeat or reloaded MTN Wafa Wafa Cup final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
Agreed, the spotlight is usually reserved for infield players largely because of their ability to do the shimmy, the twist or the body swerve to send an opponent scampering in a different direction, while they go that way, much to the delight of an appreciative audience.
They (forwards) also get cheered the loudest when they find the back of the net and even at the end of a competition when judges sit down to evaluate the contributions of players throughout an eventful year, they tend to focus on infield players when deciding to reward the best players of the year.
But pause for a minute and consider the contributions of Leeuwenburgh who in my view has been a revelation between the sticks for City with his brilliant positional play and the ability to expertly cut out crosses in the penalty area while his agility and reaction to danger has been second to none.
Ask Mamelodi Sundowns. The former Ajax Amsterdam shot-stopper managed to shut them out during 180 minutes of hard exchanges and when it was time for the dreaded penalty shootout, he effortlessly saved two to send the Brazilians crashing out in the lucrative competition during the previous round.
Williams gives an impression of being lethargic, almost disinterested in proceedings around him, but it is a ploy to lure his opponents into a false sense of security to think that he is a lumbering jerk and thus easy meat.
Yet he switches character from a Dr Jekyll into the mysterious Mr Hyde once the game gets underway and is almost impossible to beat. His ability to communicate with his defenders has made them as impenetrable as Fort Knox and once again, his reading of the game will be crucial on Saturday.
A football game is said to be won and lost in the middle of the park and this is where Roland Putsche and Dean Furman will battle it out for larger share of roaming free and setting up their forwards with ammunition to direct at the respective goalkeepers.
There is very little separating the two teams. Preparations have been almost completed and now the stage is set for a shootout and expect Evans Rusike (SuperSport United) and Ayanda Patosi (Cape Town City) to lead their respective teams with the determination to lift up the trophy at the end of proceedings.