In the past few games, we’ve been experiencing a kind of renaissance of goalkeeper James Pantemis, who has become number 1 again and, above all, plays more confidently and confidently.
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The Kirkland-born keeper lost his regular job to Sebastian Breza in October 2021 after a tough end to the game in Toronto.
Since then, the 25-year-old goalkeeper had played just two Canadian Championship games, including a tough 4-0 semi-final defeat, still in Toronto last June.
On July 16, Wilfried Nancy opted to give him the team’s goal and Pantemis has since played five of the team’s six games in which he is still undefeated (3-0-2).
So we can commend Pantemis for his patience, who was not let down by the loss to Toronto.
“I wouldn’t say I’m relieved because there’s still a lot to do.”
“Obviously losing 4-0 was difficult, but also against Toronto, but I know there are changes in this business, whether it’s an injury or a red card. You just have to be ready for the opportunity.”
You’d think the last few months have been purgatory for the young goalkeeper, but he doesn’t see it that way.
“For me it was an opportunity to work on things that I wanted to improve. I didn’t see it as a waste of time.”
“I wanted to work on my game on and off the pitch. I did weight training with the fitness trainers at the gym. I feel like I’ve done a good job and I want to have fun.”
Wilfried Nancy has a knack for making winning decisions, and the decision to reinstate Pantemis as a starter is just the latest in a long list.
“I feel he’s good. I want a team that is brave and he is,” said the head coach on Thursday afternoon. But I don’t forget Sebastian because he had a great game in Columbus. If he doesn’t save, we won’t win the game.”
The team’s two goalkeepers are young and Nancy doesn’t mind that they compete against each other for minutes.
“I like to see my two goalkeepers who are competitive. I already said that I like having a first goalkeeper and a second goalkeeper.
“I didn’t decide to compete under media pressure, but because I felt it and I think it’s for the best for everyone, even if I’m not a fanatic.”
Don’t think that this internal competition will undermine the relationship between the two young men.
“We get along really well, we’ve known each other for years, so it doesn’t change anything for me. I concentrate on the task that the coach gives me.”
Still, seven months elapsed between his last start of the 2021 season and the team’s first Canadian Championship game last May. It’s not easy mentally, but Pantemis remains stoic.
“I would say the goalkeeping position is mentally one of the toughest. You’re not allowed to touch the ball for 89 minutes and in the 90th I have to save to save the team. It’s in my head and I have to stay focused.
“You have to find ways to stay positive in order to want to keep working. I stayed strong and firm. I had no doubts, it’s my job and I chose it. I’m all in there.