Bester: I can get better

2010-09-07 00:00

YOU couldn’t ask for a much more appropriate preparation for the tough life of a professional footballer than growing up as the only son, and second-youngest child at that, in a family of five daughters, as Maritzburg United forward Rudolf Bester did in Namibia.

Like most footballers in southern Africa, Bester is from a modest background. Growing up in the tranquil north-central Namibian town of Otjiwarongo (meaning “pleasant place” or “place where fat cattle graze”), his father was a truck driver and mother worked in a local hostel.

Predictably, his retired parents have DStv now, and eagerly watch any game Bester is involved in.

They would have seen a good few to be proud of last season — Bester’s first in the PSL, where the wiry forward impressed with his skill and pace, and ability to score long-range goals.

There is generally a hush that comes over the crowd at Harry Gwala when Bester positions his body for one of his efforts from distance, which is more often than not followed by an “Ooh”, because the forward’s shots almost always come close.

And some go in, notably the effort from just under 30 metres that proved the winning goal for United in their first-ever away win against Kaizer Chiefs (2-1) at Orlando Stadium early last season. The strike, with Bester cutting inside Jimmy Tau and unleashing a potent curler past Arthur Bartman, was of such quality and aesthetic value that it won the PSL’s goal of the season.

In November, Bester weighed in with a similar effort against SuperSport United in a 3-2 defeat to Maritzburg.

Another crucial goal came when he helped steer his national team to a 1-1 draw against World Cup hosts Bafana Bafana in a friendly at Moses Mabhida Stadium in March.

This season Bester has been on the scoresheet again already. Playing as a second striker despite a hamstring injury that prevented him training for the previous week, the Namibian showed he can score from close range too in United’s league opener against AmaZulu at Moses Mabhida Stadium, though this could not prevent Maritzburg from going down 3-2.

“I was very happy to score against Chiefs last season and win goal of the season and I look forward to scoring again on Wednesday (tomorrow),” Bester said yesterday, with the soft-spoken understatement that seems characteristic of many Namibians.

United take on Chiefs for only the second time ever in Pietermaritzburg tomorrow night, in the Team of Choice’s first home Premier Soccer League game of the season at Harry Gwala Stadium (8.30 pm).

“We [United] have had a good preparation. We lost our first game against AmaZulu, but now it’s a different ball game. It’s not AmaZulu, it’s Chiefs and we’ve prepared forward, and let’s see what we can do,” Bester said yesterday.

“It’s a big team — everybody wants to play against Chiefs. We have nothing to lose so we have to go out there and do our best. Make our supporters proud, because we are playing at home at Harry Gwala Stadium.

“Our supporters always come in numbers, like they did against Pirates last season and hopefully they’ll do it again.”

After his heroics last season, Bester (27) is aiming to avoid a second season syndrome and improve this campaign. He says the continuity in coaching staff and players at United should help him achieve that aim.

“I did well [last season] but I think that was not my best. I can still improve on it.

“It’s important that we have kept the same coach [Ernst Middendorp], the same assistant coach, goalkeeper-coach and players. Now I know the culture at this team, and the players around me, which I think can help me do better.

“We have brought young players in and most of them are from the development — they have trained with the first team and know how we play.

“I think it’s the right move by the coach to bring in young players because he has worked with them in the youth structures and he knows what they can do — and he trusts their ability.

“And those players are hungry to prove themselves. It has brought a good energy to the squad. It could be a great season for us if we can gel together.”

Bester played against AmaZulu having not trained the previous week with a hamstring injury.

Now fully fit, he is sure to be tightly marked by Chiefs this time round. But the slippery forward will be looking to escape the Amakhosi defence’s grasp and renew his heroics against the Soweto giants.

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