Jyri Nieminen explains Orlando Pirates departure, SA goalkeeping issues

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The Finnish coach has left Pirates after spending a year and a half in the PSL working with different goalkeepers at the Soweto giants.

Nieminen is credited for improving the performances of Wayne Sandilands in the 2019/20 season and worked with new number one Richard Ofori before his decision to depart before Christmas.

"I decided to leave for personal growth, but more than that for family reasons," Nieminen tells KickOff.com.

"I haven’t been home in two years and a lot has happened. Now it is time to slow down, reflect and only then move on.

"I am extremely proud and forever grateful about my stay in OP and South Africa. I have learned a lot about a new culture in terms of football, but more important than that the culture of the country.

"At Orlando Pirates I got to work with some great professionals from whom I learned a lot, but also made a few great friends. I also learned a lot from all the goalkeepers that I worked with.

"Thank you Wayne Sandilands, Joris Delle, Siyabonga Mpontsane, Richard Ofori, Kopano Tsuntsane and Ayanda Sithole."

10. Kennedy Mweene - 7 clean sheets in 10 appearan
10. Kennedy Mweene - 7 clean sheets in 10 appearances
9. Denis Onyango - 8 clean sheets in 21 appearance
9. Denis Onyango - 8 clean sheets in 21 appearances
8. Elvis Chipezeze - 9 clean sheets in 27 appearan
8. Elvis Chipezeze - 9 clean sheets in 27 appearances
7. Peter Leeuwenburgh - 9 clean sheets in 25 appea
7. Peter Leeuwenburgh - 9 clean sheets in 25 appearances
6. Ricardo Goss - 9 clean sheets in 19 appearances
6. Ricardo Goss - 9 clean sheets in 19 appearances
5. Daniel Akpeyi - 10 clean sheets in 25 appearanc
5. Daniel Akpeyi - 10 clean sheets in 25 appearances
4. Richard Ofori - 11 clean sheets in 28 appearanc
4. Richard Ofori - 11 clean sheets in 28 appearances
3. Veli Mothwa - 11 clean sheets in 19 appearances
3. Veli Mothwa - 11 clean sheets in 19 appearances
2. Wayne Sandilands - 12 clean sheets in 27 appear
2. Wayne Sandilands - 12 clean sheets in 27 appearances
1. Ronwen Williams - 13 clean sheets in 30 appeara
1. Ronwen Williams - 13 clean sheets in 30 appearances

Despite the PSL being dominated by only a few keepers in the past decade – the likes of Itumeleng Khune, Denis Onyango, Ronwen Williams and the late Senzo Meyiwa – Nieminen believes South Africa has many talented shot-stoppers.

However, the 33-year-old says there is a big need for more goalkeeper coaching education.

Nieminen tried to help address the challenge of a lack of qualified goalkeeper coaches but unfortunately no one was willing to buy in on his ideas.

"There are a lot of good goalkeepers in SA but still too much 'raw talent' at PSL level. I can only imagine the level of goalkeeping if these talented keepers could come through a more structured education and development process," he explains.

"The goalkeeper department of Orlando Pirates is clearly the best one in SA and all those keepers should play PSL football every week. It is a pity that there is no goalkeeping coach education in the country.

"During my time there I tried to offer my help and support in this regard, but nobody ever replied to my messages."