Buckley in hard landing

2012-07-12 00:00

HE may be finding it difficult to adapt to local conditions, but former Bafana Bafana and current Maritzburg United star Delron Buckley couldn’t be happier to be back home.

“Every day I wake up and there is sun,” the left-footed 34-year-old told The Witness yesterday. “And every day I get to see my mom.”

Buckley signed for the Team of Choice last month after spending the last 17 years playing in Europe — most notably in Germany, Switzerland and Cyprus.

With the dry Midlands winter air, Buckley acknowledged that he had found the going tough in his first few weeks training.

“My body is sore, pre-season has been tough,” said Buckley, who played 45 minutes in United’s friendly against local Vodacom League side Brazil yesterday.

“The ground here is very hard and the ball just bounces so much more — it’s something I’m still getting used to.”

With 75 Bafana Bafana caps to his name, one would expect Buckley to be experienced enough to adapt to conditions and be a major player for United this season.

He is likely to be used on the left of midfield by coach Ernst Middendorp, though his versatility could see him play in a more central role if needed.

Buckley has never played for a PSL club before, and said the league has come a long way from the one he left behind when he packed his bags for Europe.

“The PSL has caught up with the rest of the world and we have some fantastic international coaches here who bring with them an international system and tactics,” he said.

“The guys have a hunger to play and there isn’t so much of this ‘dribble’ mentality that was here before.”

While it is still too early to make any assumptions about the quality of United’s squad this season, Buckley has been impressed by his team-mates.

“They are a good group of players who work very hard — we are a talented squad,” he said.

“I think if we get our acts together and share the coach’s vision then we can have a very successful season.”

An international veteran, Buckley was not anxious to comment on the current state of Bafana.

“Actually, when I was playing things were fine and they only started losing once they stopped selecting me,” United’s new number seven joked.

The future of United’s Senegalese centre back Mor Diouf, entering his last contracted year at the club, is still uncertain.

There has been an offer from the MLS in the U.S. for the player’s services, but the club confirmed that the offer was not high enough and that it had been sent back for revision.

Diyo Sibisi, Morné Davids, JB Ncubeni and Prince Olomu have also been the subject of interest from other clubs, though nothing concrete has materialised for any of them.

• sport@witness.co.za

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