PLAYER PERSPECTIVE: SHUAIB WALTERS Follow on Twitter
It has been interesting reading Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane’s comments about our training sessions with Bafana Bafana last week.
I have the greatest respect for Bra Pitso and what he’s achieved with Sundowns, especially in Africa, and I can understand why he is possibly upset with the amount of playing time Tebogo Langerman has had recently. It is tough for a defender to play two full games in the week for the national team and then go straight back into a hectic schedule for his club.
However, I do think it’s a little bit different for a goalkeeper. We don’t focus too much on fitness during national team training sessions because there isn’t enough time. We only spend a few days together in camp, which means that the time is spent primarily on tactics, game plans and strategies.
As a goalkeeper, each training session is more like a warm-up. The sessions tend to be focused on drills and defensive organisation, especially at set-piece play.
It is also important that we spend time creating links with the defenders. For successful defensive play in any match, constructive communication at the back is critical. Defenders and goalkeepers feel more comfortable and confident when the communication flows well between them.
Still sticking with the national team, it would appear that Bafana Bafana has a new coach in the form of Stuart Baxter. I am not one that gets too fussed about the movement of coaches, but there has been a lot of hype on the subject and Baxter particularly.
I haven’t worked with Baxter thus far but there’s no doubt that he is very tactically adept. When playing against a Baxter lead Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United, I have always found his teams to be very well prepared.
He is a superb tactician and also a good “man-manager”. He seems to motivate his players well with his teams always playing until the final minute.
We cannot ignore that there are always concerns around a coach returning to a team. Why was he not successful in the first place? What makes it different now? Has he improved?
Personally, I think that these are all reasonable questions, but Baxter is a far more experienced coach now than when he left Bafana in 2005. I am not speaking only about his advanced age – he is a younger looking 65 now – but more in terms of the knowledge gained about South African football and our unique culture.
When he began his maiden tenure with Bafana he arrived in South Africa straight from England. He had all the credentials to be successful but unfortunately it did not work out the first time.
I think now that he’s been part of the South African football system for a while, coaching in the PSL with tremendous success especially during his time with a big club like Chiefs, he’s been able to understand the local game, the players and the structures at all levels much better.
Lastly, it was quite weird playing a PSL game on a Monday night. That’s usually my time to laze around on my couch and catch an English Premiership game, but I’m sure the entertainment we dished up would have rivalled any match on the box.
Huge congratulations to my Cape Town City teammate Bhongolwethu Jayiya for smashing in the fastest hat trick – just 10 minutes – in PSL history against our Port Elizabeth rivals Chippa United.
Our coach Eric Tinkler has long pushed Bhongo for he knows his potential and it was great to see him realise it in such a crucial game for us because the 4-1 win took us back to the top of the table.
I would have liked to keep a clean sheet, especially with us leading at halftime 4-0, but I only managed to get fingertips to Manzini’s pile driver late on in the game. I was, satisfied with my double-save in the final moments when Chippa came at us.
Till next week…
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