After nearly two years on the sidelines, Orlando Pirates fans handed a lifeline to defender Justice Chabalala in the Carling Black Label Cup who grabbed his opportunity.
Coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has been impressed by Chabalala’s attitude but felt the need to devote personal man-management time to the preparation of the fan pick for the derby.
Fans voted Chabalala in for the curtain-raiser against Chiefs giving him his first start since December 2017.
Micho had lamented the selection of Chabalala ahead of kick-off on Saturday but was pleasantly surprised by how well he handled the occasion.
“On Justice Chabalala, when you look from the point of human qualities and loyalty; knowing that so many teams have looked for him, he has shown an enormous amount of loyalty to the team,” Micho said after the match.
“He has always been a generator of positive energy in the team, and him being voted for by supporters was not by accident, they have recognised the heart of the player from Giyani.
“And he needed personal man-management in preparing for this match, but having in mind on 21 October 2017, he played his first Derby, so this was like his second in a way.”
Micho was much happier after the final whistle, not only with Chabalala but with how good his team looked on the whole.
Knock knock Chabalala is here
The coach agreed that Chabalala had made a statement with his performance but said he still needed to do more to nail down a position in the first XI.
“We are extremely happy as a technical team with the players that have helped him to practically adapt and adjust to the team, the game and the challenges that this game brought,” he added.
“He has knocked on the door, but in the same moment we have no right to judge one game as a finished product. There are many more games of this magnitude. I hope it will help him gain confidence because he has not played for many months.
“But coming today with a parachute into a match of this magnitude, we are extremely happy and proud of him and his performance today.”
Pirates begin their PSL campaign with a home match against a tricky Bloemfontein Celtic.