Sinesipho Mali, Pilela Maposa, Ryan Jacobs, Paul Lamb, Darian Wilken, Musi Matlaba and Goolam Valodia are some of the prominent Performance Analysts within Premier Soccer League sides.
And while Matlaba and Valodia have tasted success at the highest continental platform with Mamelodi Sundowns, Maposa’s work yielded the long-awaited cup success at Free State Stars -Nedbank Cup- last season.
Football has changed radically over the years and perhaps, there have never been as many changes throughout the history of the game as there has been over the last two decades. This is thanks to the evolution of technology that has enhanced the sport to help players perform better. Part of the changes that have come with evolution is the introduction of video technology in football. Not only to help referees but also to help with team preparation, planning and analysis.
This is evidently the trend that local clubs have followed with the increasing number of Performance Analysts employed by PSL clubs. Mueez Kajee is one of the few highly rated video analysts in the country and the Free State man has been around long enough to attest how influential Performance Analysts can be in modern football.
"Our job is to obviously prepare the team for the next opposition," Kajee told Goal.
"We [Performance Analysts] have to dissect every part of the opposition's play from defence to attack. I identify strengths and weaknesses and obviously help the coach come out with a plan to carry out to for the next match.
"I started with analysis back in 2012 with Bloemfontein Celtic, I was there for two years and worked with Clinton Larsen and Boebie Solomons, after a season-and-a-half, I met Ernst Middendorp who basically taught me everything I know, and I have got to thank him for that.
“He taught me how to watch football with an analytical eye because most of the time it’s the finer details that one looks for when analysing the game,” Kajee continued.
“Change of ownership then happed at Celtic and then I joined Middendorp again in 2015 at Chippa United, from there- he took me with everywhere he went.
“Along the way, I built good relationships with the teams and that is how I ended up here again.
Kajee also reiterated the importance of ‘PA’ in local football, saying a number of local coaches are still wedged in ‘old-school tactics’.
“I do not want to disrespect our local coaches, but the reality is that there are many coaches in the country that do not believe in analytical work and that it is like going to war without with preparation and that’s a challenge that we’ve got to overcome as a footballing nation.
“Coaches need to realise that as analysts, we make their jobs easy because we don’t just say 'do this', we say something and we back it up with facts [video footage] on how to exploit oppositions, we feed coaches with so much information and solutions on how we to unlock a team and I think our contributions are essential.
“Like everything in life, football is evolving and that is exactly what our local coaches also need to realise.
“Foreign coaches like Luc Eymeal, Ernst Middendorp are constantly doing research and trends to improve their training sessions and adding new elements in their play.
“I am fortunate enough to have been in it for six years already and I can say that our coaches need to do a lot of research to find the latest trends in football and develop themselves whilst also keeping up with modern tactics.
“It is revealing, however, to see some local coaches like Pitso Mosimane and Fadlu Davids tweak things in their play and that’s because they have the insight.
“Rulani Mokwena is also someone with an analytical background and is constantly looking for trends and elements to improve his team’s play and that is exactly how coaches should look to improve themselves.
“Those are the coaches that are a step ahead the rest because tactically they know how to manipulate and analyse the game.”
Kajee has also worked with the South African Football Association where he assisted Basetsana in their failed quest to reach the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.