Masilela hits gym hard

2011-02-05 19:10

Bafana Bafana’s desperation for a left-back has prompted fitness trainer Francesco Gonzalez to work around the clock on ­injured defender Tsepo ­“Chester” Masilela.

This is an effort to ensure the speedy recovery of the reliable Maccabi Haifa player whose setback coincided with that of his back-up Lucas Thwala, who is also recovering from a knee injury.

Masilela has been undergoing an intense rehabilitation programme under the watchful eye of Gonzalez at a fitness centre in Sandton, Johannesburg.

Although coach Pitso ­Mosimane’s last-ditch effort to include Masilela in the crucial qualifiers against Egypt and ­Niger might not bear immediate results, Gonzalez is, however, impressed by Masilela’s response to the programme.

“I have been with him for two weeks and there has been a remarkable improvement,” said the burly Brazilian.

When City Press caught up with the two during their midday session at the gym on Friday, Gonzalez was busy working on building the 25-year-old’s balance and muscle strength.

Masilela last kicked a ball in his club’s league game on ­December 12 before undergoing a knee operation in Israel last month.

“I had been playing with pain towards the end of the year and after two check-ups in December the scans revealed that I had a meniscus (torn cartilage) on my left knee,” said the budding defender.

Apart from Gonzalez, he is ­also under the supervision of a physiotherapist in Rosebank and Bafana doctor Ephraim ­Nematswerani, who is in ­constant touch with the Israeli club.

“My leg is getting stronger. I can feel the difference but I will take things step by step,” said the players who hails from Witbank in Mpumalanga.

Masilela’s weekly programme includes two visits to the physiotherapist and a four-day work-out with Gonzalez. The doctors have booked him off for two to three months, but Gonzalez ­believes his charge could return before the set date.

Coach Pitso Mosimane this week named Orlando Pirates’ Ruben Cloete and Golden Arrows’ Mzivukile Tom for the team that will face Kenya in Rustenburg on Wednesday.

“I recommended that Tsepo come this side for rehabilitation. He is an important ­member of the team,” he said. ­

Bafana take on Egypt over two legs in March (home) and June (away).

The SA team ends their programme with a date against ­Niger (away) later in the year.

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