Vries delighted with new deal as Team of Choice are still shopping

2014-07-08 00:00

MARITZBURG United continue to rebuild their squad ahead of the 2014/15 PSL campaign that kicks off next month, and the news yesterday was that defender Kwanda Mngonyama and midfielder ­Sibusiso Kumalo have joined on loan from Mamelodi Sundowns.

Sundowns, the current PSL champions, are in the process of offloading a number of their players from their now massive squad and Maritzburg are set to benefit further with right-back Abel ­Mabaso likely to join them on loan while negotiations on the future of striker Rodney Ramagalela continue.

Since the end of last season, Maritzburg have lost Delron Buckley, Robyn Johannes, Dillon Sheppard, Orlando Smeekes, Mohammed Yakubu (all released), Ruben Cloete (Bloemfontein Celtic), Michael Morton (SuperSport United), Rheece Evans and Mario Booysen (Sundowns).

In addition, Bongolethu Jayiya has returned to Wits from a loan spell at Harry Gwala, while the futures of Ghanaian and Namibian wingers Frank Sarfo-Gyamfi and Heinrich Isaacks respectively are still up in the air.

There is no doubt that Maritzburg are in a period of rebuilding, and coach Steve Komphela has been tasked with assembling a side that can follow on the good form shown in 2014.

One of the few players to avoid the chop and put pen to paper on a new deal at Harry Gwala is 25-year-old Namibian goalkeeper Virgil Vries, who signed a new two-year deal with the club last week.

Vries arrived at Maritzburg from Golden Arrows in 2013, and has played second fiddle to Shu-Aib Walters for much of his stay at the club. But, under Komphela, Vries was given numerous opportunities in 2014 — specifically in United’s Nedbank Cup run — and he impressed to the point where by the end of the season there was no longer a first-choice goalkeeper at Maritzburg.

“Steve [Komphela] gave me a chance and I took it,” Vries told The Witness before training yesterday. “He has brought belief and confidence to my game.”

On his potential duel with Walters for the number one jersey next season, Vries was ready for the challenge.

“I think that is the way it’s going, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure that I am number one. I think it is good for any club to have two goalkeepers competing for a place,” the Namibian first-choice goalkeeper said.

“But Shu-Aib and I have been working hand in hand for a while now. We always support each other.”

The Maritzburg squad — hopefully with new faces aplenty — will be leaving for a camp in the Midlands next Monday. There is still much business to be done before then, and chairperson Farouk Kadodia is hoping to unveil more faces by the beginning of next week.

“The pre-season training so far has been good and we are all working together to play the type of football that the coach wants,” said Vries. “The new players are all being welcomed to the club and we are gelling, which is very important at a club like Maritzburg.”

Ironically, Maritzburg open their 2014/15 account with a trip to Sundowns on August 9.

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