New-look Hotspurs side ready for SA Futsal league

2016-04-29 06:00

WITH the start of the South Africa Futsal National League only a matter of weeks away, a new-look Maritzburg Hotspurs line-up are preparing for the season under a new manager and coach.

Former Hotspurs’ player Bilal Ebrahim has taken over as manager, while Paul Chetty, who previously coached the club, has returned to its fold.

In January, Hotspurs, which is owned by Poobie Govindasamy, the president of Futsal South Africa, suffered a big 11-2 loss to Ethekwini City in Westville.

“We realised we had a serious problem and I had to make necessary changes,” Ebrahim told The Witness yesterday.

His first move was to bring back Chetty. “He has a vast knowledge of the game and has been at Fifa coaching clinics,” Ebrahim explained.

Joe Dlamini, who formerly played for Young Natalians, the current national champions, joined Hotspurs as an assistant coach.

Hotspurs, though, needed players and the club’s management put a lot of effort into unearthing new talent.

Said Ebrahim: “We had coaching clinics. We had trials. We had friendlies. We went to different venues and facilities, observing and recruiting players, and we managed to put together a group of 30 players.

“From there, we had training sessions over the course of a number of weeks and we reduced the squad to 19 players. We will finalise at 18.”

He said he was happy with the changes that have taken place, but it would take some time for the club’s squad to gel. Nonetheless, he is targeting a top-three finish in the national league.

Futsal, he added, has an important role to play in the development of young players. “This game is aimed at the youth. It is about growing the youth and shaping them for professional football.

“Overseas, a lot of professional players started off playing Futsal. Today they are playing for the leading club teams in the world, like Real Madrid and Barcelona.”

South African national coach Joao Pinto, for example, counts Ronaldo and Nani among the former Futsal players he has coached.

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