Player Perspective: Dealing with the title run-in pressure

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As the season draws to a close with Shuaib Walters' Cape Town City in title contention, the pressure is building on the players


PLAYER PERSPECTIVE:   SHUAIB WALTERS       Follow on Twitter


I think I speak for my whole team when I say we’ve reached a stage where we are both extremely proud of our current achievements and under immense pressure to push on to bring home the title, which is now within our reach. Everyone involved has upped their A-game and then some,  we want to make both our supporters and our city proud of the team.

This is my first time playing for a team contending for the title and as far as preparing goes, I’ve been focusing on my weaker points to improve where I feel I am able to. I also actively try and motivate the other players as we are all under so much pressure which can affect one's performance negatively, as has happened with our past game which we lost against Maritzburg. I think we inadvertently put ourselves under too much pressure which resulted in us not performing at our best. Physically I don’t think we have much to improve on or the time to improve and I think our main focus should be to prepare mentally. In my opinion the league has maybe 4 title contenders although I believe it will be one of the current top 3 teams that will ultimately emerge victorious.

My feelings while watching the other title contenders when they play is so intense it feels like we are actually playing too, as the outcome and results of their games impact our position and hopes for the title. I also take extra interest and try an zoom in, for want of a better word, to try and pick up on whether they introduce new playing techniques or tactics, that could blindside us when we take them on.

My focus right now is 120% football and here’s an example of what I mean: I was invited to a braai on Friday evening but was the worst company as I was completely focused on the game between Sundowns and Golden Arrows, with a lot of shouting, hands flaring and frustration from me during the game which I could see made some of the guests uncomfortable. People also generally think that all football players have superstitions; I unfortunately or fortunately, depending on who’s asking, do not have any. I do however ensure that I pray before each game and after my warm up session I spend 5 to 10 minutes meditating. At this stage in the league I am trying to put a lot more focus on my mental preparedness as I’ve also noticed that for example certain things that I would overlook and brush off as coincidence I'm now taking note of like for example, if I have a good warm up session before a game I tend to have a bad game and vice versa and I’m not sure if it is the mounting pressure that is perhaps setting in...

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