The revival of Virgil Vries

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Following his premature exit from Kaizer Chiefs, Virgil Vries has found his groove at GladAfrica Championship side Swallows FC.

Alongside veteran defender Vuyo Mere at the heart of the Swallows defence, Vries has kept the joint-most clean sheets in the second-tier League this season.

The ‘Dube Birds’ shot-stopper boasts eight clean sheets in 19 league games and the Namibian international has hardly set a foot wrong at Swallows.

“We didn’t concede [against Uthongathi]. We have been conceding and as a goalkeeper, you look at yourself and you try to reflect and why are we conceding. So it is a positive, from here we just keep on building,” said Vries.

Swallows coach Brandon Truter said he values Vries’ presence in his side along with other senior players in captain Lebohang Mokoena and Mere as the trio “have been there and done it at the highest level”.

“Their roles [Vries, Mokoena and Mere] are crucial, I wouldn’t like to lose them for the next season, they are all important figures in the dressing room,” said the Swallows mentor.

Vries left Chiefs at the start of the current season and lasted less than a year at the club as his three-year contract was terminated.

He joined ‘Amakhosi’ as a back-up keeper for the now injury prone Itumeleng Khune and made a total of 11 appearances for the ‘Soweto giants’ in all competitions including the CAF Confederation Cup, keeping 5 clean sheets.

Things didn’t go according to plan at Naturena for the former Baroka and Maritzburg United man as he had a spate of howlers and ended up being omitted from the 2019 Namibian Africa Cup of Nations Cup (AFCON) squad.

“I have lost a lot of things, first and foremost my confidence, self-belief, so here [at Swallows] I was having an opportunity where I could rebuild myself, get better with playing more games,” added Vries.

“Swallows is one of the big clubs in South Africa, for me to represent this badge it was an opportunity to be part of something. Here I am smiling, happy”

Vries, who had admitted in the past that his mistakes costed him his job at Chiefs said that he doesn’t have anything to prove to people and the mistakes he made at ‘The Glamour Boys’ do not define him.

The 30-year-old goalkeeper’s career is now back on track with Swallows and hopes to help the Soweto-based side return to the Absa Premiership next season.

“It is always good to have a coach [Truter], a chairman [David Magashoa] that checks up on you, how you are, how things are, is more of a family environment, it becomes more easier and it helps you…you have people that have your back,” said the Namibian.

In the race for automatic promotion to the Absa Premiership, Swallows are second on the GladAfrica Championship log, seven points behind leaders Ajax Cape Town with six games remaining.

“We are chasing Ajax [Cape Town], Ajax are the ones with the pressure, they have to deal with it, for us as Swallows is to get the results you know…we get better and I don’t see us, ourselves  going out of the position we are in, I don’t see it happen because it is already written – it is there,” concluded Vries.

Swallows were set to play against TS Sporting on Saturday at Kabokweni Stadium but the PSL season has been suspended until further notice due to the coronavirus fears with the league stating that the season will be completed by no later than June 30 but shall remain flexible.

By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi

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