by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG,(CAJ News) – BAOLEFA Pule ought to be celebrating his attaining the number one jersey at Supersport United but coincidentally, Matsatsantsa are enduring their most turbulent period.
Such has been the turmoil at the three-time league champions that his return and him making the most consecutive appearances in the side have largely gone unnoticed.
“It feels good (to be back playing). I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Pule said in an interview with CAJ News Africa.
Caretaker coach, Andre Arendse, himself a former goalkeeper, has entrusted the 32-year-old with the gloves after the injury to first-choice and captain, Ronwen Williams.
Pule’s new lease of life and his seniority will be crucial in motivating the largely youthful side amid the possibility of ending outside the top eight after a record 21 consecutive finishes.
Supersport United, sitting on eighth, are battling with the ninth-placed Lamontville Golden Arrows for the lucrative spot as the DStv Premiership this weekend plays what was set to be the last fixtures of the campaign.
Arrows will be away to provincial foes AmaZulu on Sunday.
Supersport United will not be involved because final day opponents, Orlando Pirates, are in Nigeria for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Confederations Cup final.
The domestic fixture now scheduled for June 1 will bring the curtain down to the DStv Premiership.
Supersport United thus has the time to put their house in order amid weeks of upheaval.
They sunk to new depths after a 3-1 loss to bottom-placed Baroka at the Peter Mokaba Stadium last weekend.
Pule has since equated the encounter with Pirates to a cup final, underlining their mportance of the home match set for the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe.
He said despite this likely to be a watershed encounter, the mood in the camp was good.
“We have one last cup final to play,” the keeper said.
“The game has so much for us as players and more for the team as a brand.”
“We have to dig deep to win the game. It will be a nice way to close the season,” Pule added.
The2021/02 has been anything but nice for Supersport United, for years a model of stability in the volatile Premiership.
Off-field issues, seemingly ill-timed transfers and injuries impacted on results. Coach Kaitano Tembo eventually got the sack.
“I just feel like we let ourselves down in a few occasions,” Pule said of performances.
“Inconsistency…We all know the route we choose to go with as a club, so we knew things like this will creep up now and then.”
Star midfielder, Teboho Mokoena, was sold to rivals Mamelodi Sundowns in mid season. Defender Grant Kekana also moved to the champions before the season.
Pule believes seniors like Onismor Bhasera, Bradley Grobler, Siyabonga Nhlapo and Williams still played a guiding role in a team abundant with youth.
“I think we did our level best to give support whenever it was required,” he said.
T hep layer from Zeerust has maintained the same attitude even when the form of Williams over the years meant he had to be content on the sidelines.
“Form, as player, it has always been about the team first,” Pule said.
“It rain like I’m going to play every day. Ronwen has done incredibly well for theteam, the nation and himself.”
Williams captains club ad country.
“He (Ronwen) has my utmost respect and support he knows that,” Pule said of Williams.
Overall,Pule has played seven times in three spells at United, including six times this season.
He has featured in the last four.
“I think I have done well, but the well can always be better,” Pule said.
“I can improve more on certain aspects of my game. We are always learning in this game.”
The last four matches have produced two clean sheets, three draws and the Baroka loss.
“I believe we did well. With some luck, on a good day we could have turned one or two draws into a wins,” Pule said.
Boasting some Bafana Bafana caps at the Council of Southern African Football Associations(COSAFA) and African Nations Championship (CHAN), Pule was previously at AmaZulu and the now-defunct Bidvest Wits.
– CAJ News