Zimbabwean Goalkeeper Coach Pernell McKop Leads Stellenbosch FC to African Debut

Pernell McKop
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STELLENBOSCH, South Africa — Zimbabwean goalkeeper coach Pernell ‘Makhiwa’ McKop has played a pivotal role in Stellenbosch FC’s impressive season, culminating in their debut in African competitions next year.

Stellenbosch FC has been a standout performer in the Premiership this season, enjoying a remarkable unbeaten run of 25 matches. One of the key players has been goalkeeper Sage Stephens, whose stellar form has been bolstered by a robust defense, contributing to the second-best defensive record in the Premiership, just behind reigning champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

“There is so much research required to equip goalkeepers adequately for a match,” McKop explained. “The team analysts gather as much information as possible on the opposition, some specifically for the squad goalkeeper. By the time the match starts, your goalkeeper already knows so much about the opponents.”

McKop’s strategic approach includes discreetly passing on fresh information to the goalkeeper during matches, ensuring they can adapt to unexpected occurrences on the field.

Since McKop’s arrival in South Africa in 2004, the role of the goalkeeper coach has become essential, with every Premiership team now employing one. This evolution has heightened the importance of goalkeepers, many of whom have earned “Player of the Match” awards and gained international recognition for their performances, particularly in penalty shoot-outs.

“Every team now aims to keep a clean sheet, with great preparation going into that target,” McKop noted. “The goalkeeper will have insights into how the opposition will attack and who the danger men are. Modern goalkeepers like Stephens and Ronwen Williams are crucial in both defense and initiating attacks with precise distribution.”

Stellenbosch’s upcoming venture into African competitions will benefit from McKop’s extensive experience on the continent, both as a player and coach. McKop’s playing career includes representing Zimbabwe’s Under-20 team and the national team, The Warriors. He played for Zimbabwe Saints FC, reaching the CAF Champions League quarter-finals in 1989. As a coach, he was part of the technical team under renowned German coach Reinhard Fabisch, who led Zimbabwe’s celebrated “Dream Team.”

McKop’s coaching pedigree extends to mentoring greats such as Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar, Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene, Congolese keeper Michel Babale, and South African Shu-Aib Walters, a member of the 2010 World Cup squad.

Recently appointed as the goalkeeper coach for the Warriors by the Zimbabwe Football Association, McKop continues to shape and inspire goalkeepers, preparing them to meet the highest standards in football.

Stellenbosch FC’s African journey next year will undoubtedly draw on McKop’s deep well of knowledge and experience, positioning them as a formidable contender on the continental stage.