Artificial pitch a major challenge for Bafana – Shakes Mashaba

2014-10-06 16:08

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Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba says overcoming an artificial playing surface will be a major hurdle for the national team ahead of their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo-Brazzaville over the weekend.

“These Astroturfs are modern things. During my playing days we didn’t have this,” Mashaba said at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus in Rustenburg today.

“It’s a tough field to play on. You need a certain kind of boot that you need to wear. You don’t play with any other ordinary boot on that thing.

“That thing is hot and it can cause blisters. That’s why we took precautions with the medical people.”

Stade Municipal in Pointe-Noire will be the venue for Saturday afternoon’s third qualifier.

Mashaba revealed last month, when he announced his 26-man squad for the back-to-back qualifiers, that the team would prepare in Rustenburg, where the Sports Campus houses an artificial pitch.

“The venue has got all the facilities. They’ve got one of the best synthetic pitches,” Mashaba said.

“We will be able to train on the artificial and on the normal turf.”

Mashaba reiterated the difficulties of playing on Astroturf, normally associated with field hockey.

“It’s hot. It’s demanding for the muscles as well. The biggest thing is: we buy 25 cases of water for the players to drink. But when you play on Astroturf, 15 of those cases the players put on their boots [to keep cool].”

Bafana’s doctor, Thulani Ngwenya, said the team would not train on the artificial pitch every day, but rather on selected training sessions, which would be used to get “a feel for the surface”.

“It’s physically demanding and blisters are a major factor. Perhaps even grass burns. Those are the other problems that we might have,” Ngwenya said.

“That is why, in training, we’re preparing for it. We’re going to train once a day [on the artificial pitch] just to condition the players.”

Bafana depart on Thursday afternoon, on a chartered flight, to Pointe-Noire and will return to the country on Sunday, travelling straight to Polokwane for the return fixture next week Wednesday.

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