I have decided to keep in touch with all the Amakhosi faithful through a weekly column that will come out every Tuesday. The column will keep you as a fan up to date with the developments in the team, the camp and the player’s progress. I will also be giving analysis on international football, different leagues around the world and on what I think of Bafana Bafana ahead of the World Cup.
I must say that I have enjoyed each and every minute of the time I have spent here since my arrival back mid June. I have been to three cities, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein - this is such a beautiful country but I have to be quick to say that I am not a tourist. People have been talking about winter but you still enjoy a little bit of sunshine - it is not like this in Belgrade where it gets really cold in winter.
10-Day Camp in Pretoria
Our preseason programme started with the trip for a 10-day camp in Pretoria. The camp gave me an opportunity to work with the players for the first time and also an opportunity to understand their mentality. It was a very successful camp and thanks to everyone for making it possible for us.
Premier’s Cup in Port Elizabeth
This was the first real test for the players following an intensive 10-day camp in Pretoria and I think the guys did very well in both games against Bay United and Supersport United. We were forced to use only 17 players during the tournament as most of the players were carrying injuries. Jose Torrealba, Gerald Sibeko, Valery Nahayo, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Dominic Isaacs, Jimmy Tau, Wayne Matle and Zhiamo Jambo all sat out during the tournament.
Players like Nkosinathi Nhleko, Knowledge Musona, Thomas Sweswe, Tshifiwa Mmbooi including youngsters like Thela Ngobeni and George Lebese who scored one of the goals in the final showed what they can offer for the team going forward. We won the tournament but for me it was all about the preparation for the next season.
I think tactically my players played better in the game against Iran as compared to the Premier’s Cup. I was pleased with this because this is how I want my players to play and it showed that we are on the right track. We created lot of chances like in the games in Port Elizabeth but we could not put them away and I think this was due to the fact that the guys have been working very hard at training, as it is still preseason. Even though we did not score - I was pleased with the result.
Thela Ngobeni and Mandla Masango
This week we will have to do without the services of Thela Ngobeni and Mandla Masango who are both in the national U-20 camp in preparation for the U-20 World Cup in Egypt later this year. It is good to see most of the players here doing duty for the national team. Playing for your country is a pinnacle in every player’s career and we will not stand in the way of every player that has to represent his country.
I was happy to welcome back Siphiwe Tshabalala and Itumeleng Khune back to training after a two-week break. Itumeleng immediately joined his teammates at training while Siphiwe Tshabalala is carrying an injury and will probably miss the games next week against Manchester City and Orlando Pirates.
The games next week against Manchester City and Orlando Pirates will further help us to intensify our preparations for the upcoming season. The results to me are not very important, as the major thing is preparation. Like I said, I do not have friendly games in my vocabulary, we play each and every game to win.
I am looking forward to see all our supporters in their passionate regalia and vuvuzela’s in Durban next Tuesday, 21 July 2009.